State v. Alston, 233 N.C. App. 152 (Apr. 1, 2014)

The trial court did not violate the defendant’s confrontation rights by barring him from cross-examining two of the State's witnesses, Moore and Jarrell, about criminal charges pending against them in counties in different prosecutorial districts than the district in which defendant was tried. The court noted that the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation generally protects a defendant’s right to cross-examine a State's witness about pending charges in the same prosecutorial district as the trial to show bias in favor of the State, since the jury may understand that pending charges may be used by the State as a weapon to control the witness. However, the trial judge has wide latitude to impose reasonable limits on such cross-examination based on, for example, concern that such interrogation is only marginally relevant. Here, the defendant failed to provide any evidence of discussions between the district attorney's office in the trial county and district attorneys' offices in the other counties where the two had pending charges. Additionally, Jarrell testified on cross-examination and Moore testified on voir dire that each did not believe testifying in this case could help them in any way with proceedings in other counties. On these facts, the court concluded that testimony regarding the witnesses' pending charges in other counties was, at best, marginally relevant. Moreover, the court noted, both Jarrell and Moore were thoroughly impeached on a number of other bases separate from their pending charges in other counties.