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., 04/21/2024
E.g., 04/21/2024

(1) In a case centered on the constitutionality of the State’s method of execution in capital cases, the Court held that the N.C. Council of State’s process for approving or disapproving the Department of Correction’s lethal injection protocol is not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act and that petitioners cannot challenge it by going through the Office of Administrative Hearings. Instead, the court held, any issue petitioners have with the protocol rests with the state trial courts or the federal courts. (2) The court also held that the superior court erred by dismissing the petitioners’ declaratory judgment claim that the Council’s approval of the execution protocol violated G.S. 15-188. Nevertheless, the court affirmed the superior court’s order as modified because the court correctly construed G.S. 15-188 to mean that petitioners’ rights “are limited to the obligation that [their] death[s] be by lethal injection, in a permanent death chamber in Raleigh, and carried out pursuant to an execution protocol approved by the Governor and the Council of State” and that no factual or legal authority “supports Petitioner[s] claims of a due process right to participate in the approval process.”

The N.C. Medical Board’s position statement on physician participation in executions exceeds its authority under G.S. Chapter 90 because it contravenes the specific requirement of physician presence in G.S. 15-190. 

The court remanded to the trial court this case challenging North Carolina’s drug protocol for lethal injections. The plaintiffs appealed a trial court order granting summary judgment to the defendants on the plaintiffs’ challenge to North Carolina’s previously used three-drug protocol for the administration of lethal injections (“the 2007 Protocol”). During the appeal, the 2007 Protocol was replaced by the “Execution Procedure Manual for Single Drug Protocol (Pentobarbital)” (“the new Manual”) after a statutory amendment vested the Secretary of NC Department of Public Safety with the authority to determine execution procedures. As a result, the plaintiffs’ only remaining contention on appeal was that the new Manual must be promulgated through rule-making under the Administrative Procedure Act. The court remanded so that the trial court could determine this issue in the first instance.


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