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., 09/26/2021
E.g., 09/26/2021

An officer testified at trial, without objection by the defendant, that the modus operandi of the crime was to use a female in a car by herself to gain access to the home for the purpose of committing an armed robbery. He further testified that there had been similar incidents in the area around the same time. Rejecting the defendant’s argument that the testimony was an inadmissible lay witness opinion as to the defendant’s guilt, the court explained that a lay witness may testify about “details ‘helpful to the fact-finder in presenting a clear understanding of [the] investigative process’ as long as such details are rational to the lay witness’s perception and experience.” Moreover, given that the State presented substantial evidence supporting the charge of criminal conspiracy, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court did not commit plain error in admitting the testimony. 

State v. Rogers, ___ N.C. App. ___, 796 S.E.2d 91 (Feb. 7, 2017) rev’d in part on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 817 S.E.2d 150 (Aug 17 2018)

In this drug case, officers did not offer improper opinion testimony. The defendant argued that the officers’ testimony constituted improper opinion testimony as to the defendant’s guilt. Both officers testified about the defendant’s conduct and how it related, in their experience, to activity by drug dealers. The officers’ testimony was not improper opinion testimony concerning guilt but rather ordinary testimony expressing their own experiences and observations.

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not commit plain error by allowing the defendant’s wife to testify regarding “red flags” that she should have seen earlier regarding the defendant’s conduct with the victim. In context, the witness was not offering an opinion as to the defendant’s guilt but rather responding to a question whether she had ever observed unusual behavior to between the defendant and the victim.

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