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., 09/26/2021
E.g., 09/26/2021

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial publicity. The Court distinguished the case at hand from previous decisions and concluded that given the community’s population (Houston, Texas), the nature of the news stories about the defendant, the lapse in time between Enron’s collapse and the trial, and the fact that the jury acquitted the defendant of a number of counts, a presumption of juror prejudice was not warranted. The Court went on to conclude that actual prejudice did not infect the jury, given the voir dire process.

In this rape and murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to change venue. All of the jurors either indicated that they had no prior knowledge of the incident or if they had read about it, they could put aside their knowledge about the case. The court distinguished State v. Jerrett, 309 N.C. 239 (1983), on grounds that here, six of the jurors had no knowledge of the case prior to jury selection, neither of the alternate jurors knew about the case prior to that time, individual voir dire was used, none of the jurors seated knew any of the State’s witnesses, and the population of the county where trial occurred was significantly larger than the county at issue in Jerrett.

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