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

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to compel disclosure of the identity of a confidential informant who provided the defendant’s cell phone number to the police. Applying Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53 (1957), the court noted that the defendant failed to show or allege that the informant participated in the crime and that the evidence did not contradict as to material facts that the informant could clarify. Although the State claimed that the defendant was the shooter and the defendant claimed he was not at the scene, the defendant failed to show how the informant’s identity would be relevant to this issue. Additionally, evidence independent of the informant’s testimony established the defendant’s guilt, including an eyewitness to the murder.

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to disclose the identity of a confidential informant in a drug case where—for reasons discussed in the court’s opinion—the defendant failed to show that the circumstances of his case required disclosure. 

State v. Ellison, 213 N.C. App. 300 (July 19, 2011) aff'd on other grounds, 366 N.C. 439 (Mar 8 2013)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion for disclosure of an informant’s identity where the informant’s existence was sufficiently corroborated under G.S. 15A-978(b).

State v. Dark, 204 N.C. App. 591 (June 15, 2010)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to disclose the identity of a confidential informant in a drug case. The informant set up a drug transaction between an officer and the defendant, accompanied the officer during the transaction, but was not involved in it. When deciding whether disclosure of a confidential informant’s identity is warranted, the trial court must balance the government’s need to protect an informant’s identity (to promote disclosure of crimes) with the defendant’s right to present his or her case. However, the trial court is not required to engage in balancing until the defendant makes a sufficient showing that the circumstances mandate disclosure. Factors weighing in favor of disclosure are that the informer was a participant in the crime, and that the evidence contradicts on material facts that the informant could clarify. Factors weighing against disclosure include whether the defendant admits culpability, offers no defense on the merits, and whether evidence independent of the informer’s testimony establishes guilt. Here, only the informant’s presence and role in arranging the transaction favor disclosure. The defendant failed to forecast how the informant’s identity could provide useful information to clarify any contradiction in the evidence. Moreover, the informant’s testimony was not admitted at trial; instead, the officers’ testimony established guilt. The defendant did not carry his burden of showing that the facts mandate disclosure of the informant’s identity.

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