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., 09/25/2021
E.g., 09/25/2021

In this capital case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State to elicit testimony that defense counsel had previously hired the State’s expert to testify on behalf of another client. The defendant argued that this allowed the State to improperly vouch for its expert’s credibility. The State’s expert testified that he disagreed with a defense expert’s opinion that the defendant suffers from mild intellectual disability. In light of the differences between the experts’ opinions it was proper to elicit testimony regarding potential witness bias or lack thereof. The court noted:

Although the trial court might have been better advised to have exercised its discretionary authority pursuant to . . . Rule 403, to limit the scope of the prosecutor’s inquiry to whether [the State’s expert] had previously worked for counsel representing criminal defendants in general rather than specifically identifying one of defendant’s trial counsel as an attorney to whom [the expert] had provided expert assistance, we are unable to say, given the record before us in this case, that the challenged testimony constituted impermissible prosecutorial vouching for [the expert]’s credibility or that the trial court erred by refusing to preclude the admission of the challenged testimony.

In this sexual assault case involving allegations that the defendant, a high school wrestling coach, sexually assaulted wrestlers, the trial court abused its discretion by excluding, under Rule 403, evidence that one of the victims was biased. The evidence in question had a direct relationship to the incident at issue. Here, the defendant did not seek to introduce evidence of completely unrelated sexual conduct at trial. Instead, the defendant sought to introduce evidence that the victim told “police and his wife that he was addicted to porn . . . [and had] an extramarital affair[,] . . . [in part] because of what [Defendant] did to him.” The defendant sought to use this evidence to show that the victim “had a reason to fabricate his allegations against Defendant – to mitigate things with his wife and protect his military career.” Thus, there was a direct link between the proffered evidence and the incident in question. The court went on to hold, however, that because of the strong evidence of guilt, no prejudice resulted from the trial court’s error.

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