Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021
State v. Maness, 363 N.C. 261 (June 18, 2009)

Trial court did not err in sustaining the prosecutor’s objection to an improper stake-out question by the defense. Defense counsel wanted to ask the juror in this capital case whether the juror could, if convinced that life imprisonment was the appropriate penalty, return such a verdict even if the other jurors were of a different opinion.

In an appeal from a conviction obtained in the Eve Carson murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by overruling the defendant’s objections to the State’s questions during jury selection. The defendant objected to questions about whether jurors could consider testimony by witnesses who had criminal records, had received immunity deals for their testimony, and/or were uncharged participants in some of the criminal activities described at trial. The defendant also objected to questions about the jurors’ understanding of and feelings about the substantive law on felony murder.

In a case in which the defendant was charged with various crimes related to his shooting of his pregnant wife, the trial court did not err by limiting the defendant’s voir dire of prospective jurors. The charges against the defendant included first-degree murder of his child, who was born alive after the defendant’s attack on her mother but died one month later. Defense counsel attempted to ask prospective jurors about their views on abortion and when life begins, and whether they held such strong views on those subjects that they would be unable to apply the law. The trial court sustained the State’s objection to this questioning. These questions apparently confused prospective jurors as several inquired about the relevancy of their opinions on abortion. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by sustaining the State’s objection to questioning that was confusing and irrelevant.

The trial court did not improperly limit the defendant’s voir dire questioning with respect to assessing the credibility of witnesses and the jurors’ ability to follow the law on reasonable doubt. Because the trial judge properly sustained the State’s objections to the defendant’s questions, no abuse of discretion occurred. Even if any error occurred, the defendant suffered no prejudice.

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