Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


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., 04/16/2024
E.g., 04/16/2024
(Dec. 31, 1969)

Affirming the court of appeals, the court held that on a retrial the trial court erred by applying the law of the case and denying the defendant’s motion to suppress. At the defendant’s first trial, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the victim’s identification as unduly suggestive. That issue was affirmed on appeal. At the retrial, the defense filed new motions to suppress on the same grounds. However, at the pretrial hearings on these motions, the defense introduced new evidence relevant to the reliability of the identification. The State successfully argued that the law of the case governed and that the defendant’s motions must be denied. After the defendant was again convicted, he appealed and the court of appeals reversed on this issue. Affirming that ruling the court noted that “the law of the case doctrine does not apply when the evidence presented at a subsequent proceeding is different from that presented on a former appeal.” It then went on to affirm the court of appeals’ holding that the retrial court erred in applying the doctrine of the law of the case to defendant’s motion to suppress at the retrial.

(Dec. 31, 1969) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 369 N.C. 640 (Jun 9 2017)

(1) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that on a second trial after a mistrial the second trial judge was bound by the first trial judge’s suppression ruling under the doctrine of law of the case. The court concluded that doctrine only applies to an appellate ruling. However, the court noted that another version of the doctrine provides that when a party fails to appeal from the tribunal’s decision that is not interlocutory, the decision below becomes law of the case and cannot be challenged in subsequent proceedings in the same case. However, the court held that this version of the doctrine did not apply here because the suppression ruling was entered during the first trial and thus the State had no right to appeal it. Moreover, when a defendant is retried after a mistrial, prior evidentiary rulings are not binding. (2) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the second judge’s ruling was improper because one superior court judge cannot overrule another, noting that once a mistrial was declared, the first trial court’s ruling no longer had any legal effect. (3) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that collateral estoppel barred the State from relitigating the suppression issue, noting that doctrine applies only to an issue of ultimate fact determined by a final judgment.

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