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., 09/21/2021
E.g., 09/21/2021
State v. Phachoumphone [Duplicated], ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 748 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Sep 20 2018)

In this child sexual assault case, although the trial court violated the procedural requirements of G.S. 15A-1225.1 by authorizing the victim’s testimony to be offered remotely without holding a recorded evidentiary hearing on the matter or entering an appropriate order supporting its decision to allow the State’s motion, the defendant was not entitled to relief. The defendant did not challenge the trial court’s ultimate decision allowing the victim to testify remotely; he challenged only the procedure employed in authorizing her remote testimony. The court agreed that the trial court erred by failing to follow statutory procedure. However, for reasons detailed in the court’s opinion, it rejected the defendant’s challenge on the basis that he failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by these procedural errors.

In a case in which the defendant was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses for selling products alleged to be gluten free but which in fact contained gluten, the trial court did not err by allowing an ill witness to testify by way of a two-way, live, closed-circuit web broadcast. The witness testified regarding the results of laboratory tests he performed on samples of the defendant's products. The trial court conducted a hearing and found that the witness had a history of panic attacks, had suffered a severe panic attack on the day he was scheduled to fly from Nebraska to North Carolina for trial, was hospitalized as a result, and was unable to travel to North Carolina because of his medical condition. Applying the test of Maryland v. Craig, the court found these findings sufficient to establish that allowing the witness to testify remotely was necessary to meet an important state interest of protecting the witness’s ill health. Turning to Craig’s second requirement, the court found that reliability of the witness’s testimony was otherwise assured, noting, among other things that the witness testified under oath and was subjected to cross-examination. [Author’s note: For an extensive discussion of the use of remote testimony at trial, see my paper here.]

The trial court did not err by allowing a child victim to testify out of the defendant’s presence by way of a closed circuit television. Following State v. Jackson, 216 N.C. App. 238 (Oct. 4, 2011) (in a child sexual assault case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court permitted the child victim to testify by way of a one-way closed circuit television system; Maryland v. Craig survived Crawford and the procedure satisfied Craig’s procedural requirements), the court held that no violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights occurred. The court also held that the trial court’s findings of fact about the trauma that the child would suffer and the impairment to his ability to communicate if required to face the defendant in open court were supported by the evidence.

(1) In a child sexual assault case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court permitted the child victim to testify by way of a one-way closed circuit television system. The court held that Maryland v. Craig survived Crawford and that the procedure satisfied Craig’s procedural requirements. (2) The court also held that the child’s remote testimony complied with the statutory requirements of G.S. 15A-1225.1.

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