Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


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., 07/21/2024
E.g., 07/21/2024

In a peeping case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the prosecutor to ask leading questions of the victim; the questions were not leading because they did not suggest an answer.

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the prosecution to use leading questions when examining a child sexual assault victim. The prosecutor was attempting to ask a 14-year-old victim questions about her father’s sexual conduct toward her. She was very reluctant to testify. The prosecutor repeatedly urged the victim to tell the truth, regardless of what her answer would be. The prosecutor attempted to refresh her recollection with her prior statements, but she still refused to specify what the defendant did. The court concluded: “Leading questions were clearly necessary here to develop the witness’s testimony.” (2) The trial court did not err by allowing the prosecutor to ask a 14-year-old child sexual assault victim to write down what the defendant did to her and then allowing the prosecutor to read the note to the jury. Although the child answered some questions, she was reluctant to verbally answer the prosecutor’s question about what the defendant did to her. The prosecutor then asked the victim to write down the answer to the question. The victim wrote that the defendant penetrated her vaginally. 

The prosecutor did not impermissibly vouch for the credibility of a State’s witness by asking whether any promises were made to the witness in exchange for his testimony.

State v. Wade, 198 N.C. App. 257 (July 21, 2009)

The trial judge erred by overruling defense counsel’s objection to a question posed by the prosecutor to a State’s witness alluding to the fact that a superior court judge had found that there was probable cause to search the defendant. The court reiterated the rule that a trial judge’s legal determination on evidence made in a hearing outside of the jury’s presence should not be disclosed to the jury.

The trial court erred when it allowed the State to question its witness on direct examination about whether she had told the truth.

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