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., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021
In Re Baker, 220 N.C. App. 108 (Apr. 17, 2012)

Where search warrants were unsealed in accordance with procedures set forth in a Senior Resident Superior Court Judge’s administrative order and where the State failed to make a timely motion to extend the period for which the documents were sealed, the trial judge did not err by unsealing the documents. At least 13 search warrants were issued in an investigation. As each was issued, the State moved to have the warrant and return sealed. Various judges granted these motions, ordering the warrants and returns sealed “until further order of the Court.” However, an administrative order in place at the time provided that an order directing that a warrant or other document be sealed “shall expire in 30 days unless a different expiration date is specified in the order.” Subsequently, media organizations made a made a public records request for search warrants more than thirty days old and the State filed motions to extend the orders sealing the documents. A trial judge ordered that search warrants sealed for more than thirty days at the time of the request be unsealed. The State appealed. The court began by rejecting the State’s argument that the trial court erred by failing to give effect to the language in the original orders that the records remain sealed “until further order of the Court.” The court noted the validity of the administrative order and the fact that the trial judge acted in compliance with it. The court also rejected the State’s argument that the trial judge erred by having the previously sealed documents delivered without any motion, hearing, or notice to the State and without findings of fact. The court noted that the administrative order afforded an opportunity and corresponding procedure for the trial court to balance the right of access to records against the governmental interests sought to be protected by the prior orders. Specifically, the State could make a motion to extend the orders. Here, however, the State failed to make a timely motion to extend the orders. Therefore, the court concluded, the administrative order did not require the trial court to balance the right to access against the governmental interests in protecting against premature release. The court further found that the State had sufficient notice given that all relevant officials were aware of the administrative order.

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