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., 09/22/2021
E.g., 09/22/2021
State v. King, 366 N.C. 68 (June 14, 2012)

The court affirmed State v. King, 214 N.C. App. 114 (Aug. 2, 2011) (holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the State’s expert testimony regarding repressed memory under Rule 403). The trial court had concluded that although the expert’s testimony was “technically” admissible under Howerton and was relevant, it was inadmissible under Rule 403 because recovered memories are of “uncertain authenticity” and susceptible to alternative possible explanations. The trial court found that “the prejudicial effect [of the evidence] increases tremendously because of its likely potential to confuse or mislead the jury.” The supreme court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the repressed memory evidence under Rule 403. The court noted that its holding was case specific:

We promulgate here no general rule regarding the admissibility or reliability of repressed memory evidence under either Rule 403 or Rule 702. As the trial judge himself noted, scientific progress is “rapid and fluid.” Advances in the area of repressed memory are possible, if not likely, and even . . . [the] defendant’s expert, acknowledged that the theory of repressed memory could become established and that he would consider changing his position if confronted with a study conducted using reliable methodology that yielded evidence supporting the theory. Trial courts are fully capable of handling cases involving claims of repressed memory should new or different scientific evidence be presented.

In this murder case, the trial court committed reversible error by excluding, under Rule 403, testimony by a defense expert that certain incriminating computer files had been planted on the defendant’s computer. Temporary internet files recovered from the defendant’s computer showed that someone conducted a Google Map search on the laptop while it was at the defendant’s place of work the day before the victim was murdered. The Google Map search was initiated by someone who entered the zip code associated with the defendant's house, and then moved the map and zoomed in on the exact spot where the victim’s body later was found.

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