State v. Hunt, ___ N.C. App. ___, 792 S.E.2d 552 (Nov. 1, 2016)

In this burning of a building case, the trial court did not commit plain error by allowing Investigator Gullie to offer expert opinion testimony. Investigator Gullie testified at trial without objection. Noting the procedural posture of the case, the court stated:

In challenging the trial court’s performance of its gatekeeping function for plain error, defendant implicitly asks this Court to hold the trial court’s failure to sua sponte render a ruling that Investigator Gullie was qualified to testify as an expert pursuant to Rule 702 amounted to error. And to accept defendant’s premise would impose upon this Court the task of determining from a cold record whether Investigator Gullie’s opinion testimony required that he be qualified as an expert in fire investigation, where neither the State nor defendant respectively sought to proffer Investigator Gullie as an expert or challenge his opinion before the trial court.

The court went on to hold that even assuming the trial court erred, the defendant could not establish plain error in light of other evidence presented in the case.