State v. Harris, 255 N.C. App. 653 (Sept. 19, 2017)

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that trial counsel was deficient by failing to give notice to the State of the defendant’s intention to offer an alibi witness. The defendant had argued that trial counsel’s failure was a violation of the discovery rules and resulted in the trial court declining to give an alibi jury instruction. The court found however that the trial court’s decision declining to give an alibi instruction was not due to ineffective assistance but rather to the trial court’s error. A defendant only is required to give notice of an alibi witness after being ordered to do so by the trial court. Here, no such order was entered. Therefore, counsel was not deficient in failing to disclose the defendant’s intent to offer an alibi witness. The court went on to conclude that even if it were to find that counsel’s performance was deficient, the defendant failed to show prejudice. Although the trial court declined to give an instruction on alibi, the alibi evidence--the defendant’s own testimony that he was elsewhere with his girlfriend at the time of the offense--was heard and considered by the jury.