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., 11/27/2021
E.g., 11/27/2021
State v. Chavez, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Apr. 7, 2020) rev’d in part on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 2021-NCSC-86 (Aug 13 2021)

This Mecklenburg County case involved charges of attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. The defendant and two other men (one of whom was unidentified) entered the victim’s home and attacked him with a machete and hammer. The victim’s girlfriend escaped with an infant and called police. The defendant and his named co-conspirator apprehended the girlfriend outside of the home, where the defendant instructed the other man to kill her. He refused, and the defendant fled; the other man stayed with the woman until police arrived (and became the named co-conspirator in the indictment). The defendant was convicted of all charges at trial and sentenced to a minimum term of 336 months.

An officer was asked whether she received any conflicting information about the defendant’s identity from witnesses interviewed about the case. The officer testified at trial that she did not. The defendant did not object at trial but complained that admission of evidence was hearsay, violated his confrontation rights, and constituted plain error. Rejecting this argument, the court found that the officer’s testimony did not convey a statement from any of the interviewees and was capable of different interpretations. It was not therefore a statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted and violated neither hearsay rules nor the Confrontation Clause. Even if the admission of this evidence was error, it was not prejudicial and did not rise to plain error. The conviction for conspiracy to commit attempted murder was reversed, the remaining convictions affirmed, and the matter remanded.

In this drug trafficking case, the defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were not violated when the trial court admitted statements made by a non-testifying confidential informant. The statements were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted but rather to explain subsequent steps taken by officers in the investigation, and the trial court gave a limiting instruction to that effect.

In this case involving a larceny from a country club, the Confrontation Clause was not violated when the trial court admitted evidence that the owners of the country club received an anonymous phone call providing information about the perpetrator. The trial court admitted the statement with a limiting instruction that it was not to be considered for its truth but only to show the course of the officers’ investigation based on the information provided by the caller. Because the statement was admitted for a purpose other than the truth of the matter asserted, it falls outside of the protections afforded by the Confrontation Clause.

In this kidnapping and rape case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court admitted, for the purposes of corroboration, statements made by deceased victims to law enforcement personnel. The statements were admitted to corroborate statements made by the victims to medical personnel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that because the statements contained additional information not included in the victims’ statements to medical personnel, they exceeded the proper scope of corroborative evidence and were admitted for substantive purposes. The court noted in part, “the mere fact that a corroborative statement contains additional facts not included in the statement that is being corroborated does not render the corroborative statement inadmissible.” 

In this homicide case where the defendant was charged with murdering his wife, the confrontation clause was not violated when the trial court allowed forensic psychologist Ginger Calloway to testify about a report she prepared in connection with a custody proceeding regarding the couple’s children. Defendant argued that Calloway’s report and testimony violated the confrontation clause because they contained third party statements from non-testifying witnesses who were not subject to cross-examination at trial. The court rejected this argument concluding that the report and testimony were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted but to show “defendant’s state of mind.” In fact, the trial court gave a limiting instruction to that effect, noting that the evidence was relevant “only to the extent it may have been read by . . . defendant” and “had some bearing” on how he felt about the custody dispute with his wife.

Where no hearsay statements were admitted at trial, the confrontation clause was not implicated.

No violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights occurred when an officer testified to statements made to him by others where the statements were not introduced for their truth but rather to show the course of the investigation, specifically why officers searched a location for evidence.

The defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when an officer testified to the victim’s statements made to him at the scene through the use of a telephonic translation service. The defendant argued that his confrontation rights were violated when the interpreter’s statements were admitted through the officer’s testimony. These statements were outside of the confrontation clause because they were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted but rather for corroboration.

State v. Ross, 216 N.C. App. 337 (Oct. 18, 2011)

Because evidence admitted for purposes of corroboration is not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, Crawford does not apply to such evidence.

 

Because the statements at issue were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted and therefore were not hearsay, their admission did not implicate the confrontation clause. The statements at issue included statements of an officer during an interrogation of the defendant. In his statements, the officer repeated things the police had been told by others. The officer’s statements were not offered for their truth but rather to provide context for defendant’s answers.

Statements of a non-testifying informant to a police officer were non-testimonial when offered not for the truth of the matter asserted but rather to explain the officer’s actions in the course of the investigation.

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