State v. Yates, ___ N.C. App. ___, 821 S.E.2d 650 (Oct. 16, 2018)

In this case involving convictions for kidnapping, communicating threats, assaults, breaking or entering, rape, and sexual assault, the court held that because a recording equipment malfunction prevented the court reporter from producing a full transcript of the trial, including crucial portions of the victim’s testimony such as cross-examination, the defendant is entitled to a new trial. The defendant’s trial began on 16 August 2016. On 19 August 2016 the jury returned its verdicts. On appeal the defendant argued that he was denied a meaningful appeal because a portion of the trial transcript from 18 August 2016 is missing. The court found that the defendant had made sufficient efforts (described in the opinion) to reconstruct the missing portion of the transcript and that the alternative was inadequate. On the latter point, appellate counsel was able only to verify that cross-examination of the victim took place at this time, but not the substance of that testimony. The court further found that the lack of an adequate alternative to a verbatim transcript denied the defendant of meaningful appellate review such that a new trial is required.