Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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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.

Instructions

Navigate using the table of contents to the left or by using the search box below. Use quotations for an exact phrase search. A search for multiple terms without quotations functions as an “or” search. Not sure where to start? The 5 minute video tutorial offers a guided tour of main features – Launch Tutorial (opens in new tab).

E.g., 06/16/2022
E.g., 06/16/2022
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In this McDowell Countyt case of first impression, the Court of Appeals determined that law enforcement officers were not required to provide the defendant with Miranda warnings while he barricaded himself in a bedroom for many hours and threatened to commit suicide while officers...

In an assault on a female case, the State conceded that the trial court erred by sentencing the defendant to 24 months of supervised probation without making a specific finding, as required by G.S. 15A-1343.2(d), that a probationary period longer than 18 months was necessary.  The court...

In this first-degree murder case, the defendant challenged (1) the validity of a search warrant for his home; (2) the trial court’s refusal to suppress electronic monitoring data from a GPS unit the defendant was wearing at the time of the offense; (3) the trial court’s refusal to allow...

In this murder case, the Supreme Court determined that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the trial court admitted into evidence a transcript of another person’s plea allocution.  In 2006, a child in the Bronx was killed by a stray 9-...

In this case, the Court held, in an opinion by Justice Kagan, that the flight of a person suspected of a misdemeanor offense does not categorically justify an officer’s warrantless entry into a home.  Instead, an officer must consider all the circumstances in a case involving the pursuit...

The defendant, during his time as a police sergeant in Georgia, used his patrol car computer to run a license plate search in the law enforcement database in exchange for money. The defendant’s conduct was in violation of his department’s policy, which authorized access to database...

The respondent in this case, a non-Indian, was detained and searched by a tribal police officer on a public highway that traversed the Crow Reservation in Montana. The officer discovered the respondent in his truck on the roadside, noticed that he had watery, bloodshot eyes and saw two...

In this case involving a welfare check that resulted in officers entering petitioner Caniglia’s home without a warrant and seizing his firearms, the court held that its decision in Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433 (1973) upholding as reasonable a “caretaking search” of an impounded...

Confronting the question in a habeas case of whether the holding in Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U.S. ___, ___ S. Ct. ___ (2020) that a state jury must be unanimous to convict a criminal defendant of a serious offenses...

In the case of a defendant who committed a homicide when he or she was under 18, Miller and Montgomery do not require the sentencer to make a separate factual finding of permanent incorrigibility before sentencing the defendant to life without parole. In such a case, a discretionary sentencing...

Law enforcement officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant early in the morning at an apartment complex in New Mexico. They noticed the plaintiff in the parking lot and realized she was not the subject of the warrant but wished to speak with her. As they approached, the plaintiff...

In a per curiam decision, the Court determined that defense counsel’s performance in the punishment phase of a capital murder trial was deficient and remanded the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for that court to address the prejudice prong of a Strickland ineffective...

The Supreme Court reversed a Louisiana state court and held that the Sixth Amendment gives defendants a right to a unanimous jury verdict that applies to the states. The defendant was convicted of murder in 2016 based on a 10–2 jury verdict, which was a sufficient basis for conviction...

In this Kansas driving with a revoked license case, the Court held that when a police officer knows that the registered owner of a vehicle has a revoked driver’s license and lacks information negating an inference that the owner is the driver of the vehicle, a traffic stop is supported by...

The defendant was convicted of and sentenced to death for killing his wife, who had filed for divorce, his two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother, with whom the victims were staying. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion arguing that Kansas’ law on insanity violated the Due...

A Kansas identity theft statute which criminalizes the “using” of any “personal identifying information” belonging to another person with the intent to “[d]efraud that person, or anyone else, in order to receive any benefit” was not preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of...

This case arose from the cross-border shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican child by a U.S. border patrol agent. The parents of the child sued the agent in federal court for Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)....

In this habeas appeal, the petitioner was convicted of two murders in 1992 in Arizona state court. At that time, no requirement existed that the jury determine facts supporting an aggravating factor. At least one aggravating factor must be found to support a sentence of death under the Court’s...

The petitioner appealed from his impaired driving conviction on the basis that the State violated the Fourth Amendment by withdrawing his blood while he was unconscious without a warrant following his arrest for impaired driving. A Wisconsin state statute permits such blood draws. The Wisconsin...

In a plurality opinion, a majority of the Court held that 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) is unconstitutional.  The defendant Haymond was convicted by a jury of possessing child pornography in violation of federal law and was sentenced to a prison term of 38 months, followed by 10 years of supervised...

In this murder case resulting in a death sentence, the Court held that the trial court committed clear error in concluding that the State’s peremptory strike of a black prospective juror was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.  The defendant Flowers, who is black,...

Citing the text of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, historical evidence, and “170 years of precedent,” the Court refused to overturn the “dual-sovereignty” doctrine and held that the defendant’s federal prosecution for unlawful possession of a handgun was not barred by...

The Court reversed and remanded a decision by the Ninth Circuit, holding that because police officers had probable cause to arrest Respondent Bartlett, his First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim fails as a matter of law. Russell Bartlett sued petitioners—two police officers—alleging that they...

The Court affirmed the decision below, rejecting the defendant’s argument that because of his unusual medical condition the State of Missouri’s lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional as applied to him.

For more detail about this decision, see my colleague blog post here:...

The presumption of prejudice recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), applies regardless of whether the defendant has signed an appeal waiver. Defendant Garza signed two plea agreements arising from charges brought by the State of Idaho. Each agreement included a...

If a defendant with no memory of his crime rationally understands why the State seeks to execute him, the Eighth Amendment does not bar execution; if a defendant with dementia cannot rationally understand the reasons for his sentence, it does. What matters, explained the Court, is whether a...

The Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an “incorporated” protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft....

In a per curiam opinion in this capital case, the Court held that the defendant has shown he is a person with intellectual disability. In 2015 a Texas appellate court held that the defendant did not have an intellectual disability and consequently was eligible for the death penalty. The Court...

When a defendant agrees to have charges against him considered in two trials, he cannot later successfully argue that the second trial offends the Double Jeopardy Clause. Facing trial on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, defendant Michael...

The Government conducts a search under the Fourth Amendment when it accesses historical cell phone records that provide a comprehensive chronicle of the user’s past movements. Police officers arrested four men suspected of robbing Radio Shack and TMobile stores in Detroit. One of the men...

The automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment does not permit an officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter the curtilage of a home to search a vehicle parked there. Officer McCall saw the driver of an orange and black motorcycle with an extended frame commit a traffic infraction. The...

Under the Sixth Amendment, a defendant has the right to insist that defense counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty. The defendant was charged with three counts of...

Pennsylvania State Troopers pulled over a car driven by Terrence Byrd. Byrd was the only person in the car. During the traffic stop the troopers learned that the car was rented and that Byrd was not listed on the rental agreement as an authorized driver. For this reason, the troopers told Byrd...

In a per curiam opinion the Court held that a Tucson, Arizona police officer was entitled to qualified immunity with respect to his non-fatal shooting of Amy Hughes. Kisela and officer Garcia responded to a police radio report that a woman was hacking a tree with a kitchen knife. Minutes later,...

Ruling in a civil suit against the District of Columbia and five of its police officers brought by individuals arrested for holding a raucous, late-night party in a house they did not have permission to enter, the Court held that the officers had probable cause to arrest the partygoers and were...

In a per curiam decision in this capital murder case decided under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Court held that the state court did not unreasonably apply the law when it determined that the defendant was competent to be executed. The defendant was sentenced to...

In a per curiam decision in a case decided under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Court held that no decision from the Court clearly establishes that a state court must impose a lower, originally expected sentence when—after the defendant has pled guilty—the State...

By wrongly advising the defendant that a guilty plea to a drug charge would not result in deportation, counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) in connection with the defendant’s plea. After he was charged with possessing ecstasy with intent to distribute, the defendant feared...

Weaver v. Massachusetts, 582 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1899 (June 22, 2017)

In a case where the defendant failed to preserve a claim of structural error with respect to improper closure of the courtroom and raised it later in the context of an ineffective assistance claim, the Court held that the defendant was not relieved of his burden of establishing prejudice, which...

Evidence withheld by the Government was not material under Brady. In 1985, a group of defendants were tried together in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia for the kidnaping, armed robbery, and murder of Catherine Fuller. Long after their convictions became final, it emerged...

North Carolina’s statute, G.S. 14–202.5, making it a felony for a registered sex offender to gain access to a number of websites, including common social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, violates the First Amendment. After the defendant, a registered sex offender, accessed Facebook, he...

The Court held, in this federal habeas case, that the Alabama courts’ refusal to provide a capital murder defendant with expert mental health assistance was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. After the jury recommended that the defendant...

In a per curiam decision, the Court held that the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling, holding that Virginia’s “geriatric release” provision satisfies Graham v. Florida was not an objectively unreasonable application of Graham. In 1999, the defendant, who was 16 years old at the...

Reversing a Ninth Circuit decision that upheld a $4 million award on a §1983 excessive force claim, the Court rejected the Ninth Circuit’s “provocation doctrine,” which had allowed relief where the officers’ conduct was deemed reasonable. Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department...

The Court held that when a criminal conviction is invalidated by a reviewing court and no retrial will occur, is the State obliged to refund fees, court costs, and restitution exacted from the defendant upon, and as a consequence of, the conviction. Absent conviction of a crime, one is presumed...

Vacating and remanding in this capital case, the Court held that a Texas court was wrong to fault a lower court for using a current definition of intellectual disability and by focusing on superseded standards and non-clinical factors for determining intellectual disability. Consulting current...

The Fourth Amendment governs a §1983 claim for unlawful pretrial detention even beyond the start of legal process. According to the petitioner’s complaint, he was arrested without probable cause and based solely on his possession of pills that had field-tested negative for an illegal substance....

Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the “no-impeachment rule” give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and...

Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the “no-impeachment rule” give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and...

In this Texas capital murder case, the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when his lawyer introduced evidence from a psychologist that the defendant was statistically more likely to act violently because he is black. A Texas jury convicted the...

The issue-preclusion component of the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar the Government from retrying the defendants after a jury has returned irreconcilably inconsistent verdicts of conviction and acquittal and the convictions are later vacated on appeal because of error in the judge’s...

In three consolidated cases the Court held that while a warrantless breath test of a motorist lawfully arrested for drunk driving is permissible as a search incident to arrest, a warrantless blood draw is not. It concluded: “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests...

In three consolidated cases the Court held that while a warrantless breath test of a motorist lawfully arrested for drunk driving is permissible as a search incident to arrest, a warrantless blood draw is not. It concluded: “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests...

In three consolidated cases the Court held that while a warrantless breath test of a motorist lawfully arrested for drunk driving is permissible as a search incident to arrest, a warrantless blood draw is not. It concluded: “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests...

The attenuation doctrine applies when an officer makes an unconstitutional investigatory stop, learns that the suspect is subject to a valid arrest warrant, and proceeds to arrest the suspect and seize incriminating evidence during a search incident to that arrest. An officer stopped the...

Due process required that a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice recuse himself from the capital defendant’s post-conviction challenge where the justice had been the district attorney who gave his official approval to seek the death penalty in the case. The Court stated: “under the Due Process...

The Double Jeopardy Clause bars Puerto Rico and the United States from successively prosecuting a single person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws. Puerto Rican prosecutors indicted the defendant for illegally selling firearms in violation of the Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000....

Where the State put the defendant’s future dangerousness at issue and acknowledged that his only alternative sentence to death was life imprisonment without parole, the Arizona court erred by concluding that the defendant had no right to inform the jury of his parole ineligibility. Under ...

The Ninth Circuit erred by concluding that the California “Dixon bar”--providing that a defendant procedurally defaults a claim raised for the first time on state collateral review if he could have raised it earlier on direct appeal—was inadequate to bar federal habeas review. Federal habeas...

The Court reversed this capital murder case, finding that the State’s “[t]wo peremptory strikes on the basis of race are two more than the Constitution allows.” The defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in a Georgia court. Jury selection proceeded in two phases:...

The Sixth Amendment’s speedy trial guarantee does not apply to the sentencing phase of a criminal prosecution. After pleading guilty to bail-jumping, the defendant was jailed for over 14 months awaiting sentence on that conviction. The defendant argued that the 14-month gap between conviction...

Johnson v. United States, 576 U. S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), holding that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(2)(B)(ii), was void for vagueness was a substantive decision that is retroactive in cases on collateral review.

The defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to secure counsel of choice was violated when the government, acting pursuant to 18 U. S. C. §1345, froze pretrial the defendant’s legitimate, untainted assets and thus prevented her from hiring counsel to defend her in the criminal case. Critical to the...

The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, finding that court erred in interpreting District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570 (2008), to hold that the Second Amendment does not extend to stun guns. The Court began by noting that ...

In this capital case, the prosecution’s failure to disclose material evidence violated the defendant’s due process rights. At trial the defendant unsuccessfully raised an alibi defense and was convicted. The case was before the Court after the defendant’s unsuccessful post-conviction Brady...

Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S. ___ (2012) (holding that a juvenile convicted of a homicide offense could not be sentenced to life in prison without parole absent consideration of the juvenile’s special circumstances), applied retroactively to juvenile offenders whose convictions and...

The Eighth Amendment does not require courts to instruct capital sentencing juries that mitigating circumstances “need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

(1) The Eighth Amendment does not require courts to instruct capital sentencing juries that mitigating circumstances “need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” (2) The Eighth Amendment was not violated by a joint capital sentencing proceeding for two defendants. The Court reasoned, in part...

The Court held Florida’s capital sentencing scheme unconstitutional. In this case, after a jury convicted the defendant of murder, a penalty-phase jury recommended that the judge impose a death sentence. Notwithstanding this recommendation, Florida law required the judge to hold a separate...

The Court reversed the state decision below which had held that the defendant’s lawyers were ineffective under Strickland. At the defendant’s 1995 murder trial, the State offered FBI Agent Peele as an expert witness on Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (CBLA). Peele’s testimony linked a...

In this case, challenging Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol, the Court affirmed the denial of the prisoner’s application for a preliminary injunction. The prisoners, all sentenced to death in Oklahoma, filed an action in federal court, arguing that Oklahoma’s method of execution violates the...

(1) In this case where a group of motel owners and a lodging association challenged a provision of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) requiring motel owners to turn over to the police hotel registry information, the Court held that facial challenges under the Fourth Amendment are not...

Because the Louisiana state court’s decision rejecting the defendant’s Atkins claim without affording him an evidentiary hearing was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts, the defendant was entitled to have his claim considered on the merits in federal court. After the...

In this child abuse case the Court held that statement by the victim, L.P., to his preschool teachers were non-testimonial. In the lunchroom, one of L.P.’s teachers, Ramona Whitley, observed that L.P.’s left eye was bloodshot. She asked him “[w]hat happened,” and he initially said nothing....

A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment. After an officer completed a traffic stop, including issuing the driver a warning ticket and returning all documents, the officer asked for permission to walk his police dog around the...

A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment. After an officer completed a traffic stop, including issuing the driver a warning ticket and returning all documents, the officer asked for permission to walk his police dog around the...

In this habeas corpus case, the Court reversed the Sixth Circuit, which had held that defense counsel provided per se ineffective assistance of counsel under United States v. Cronic, 466 U. S. 648 (1984), when he was briefly absent during testimony concerning other defendants. The Court...

(per curiam). Reversing the North Carolina courts, the Court held that under Jones and Jardines, satellite based monitoring for sex offenders constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court stated: “a State … conducts a search when it attaches a device to a person’s body,...

Reversing the North Carolina courts, the Court held that under Jones and Jardines, satellite based monitoring for sex offenders constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court stated: “a State … conducts a search when it attaches a device to a person’s body, without...

Affirming State v. Heien, 366 N.C. 271 (Dec. 14, 2012), the Court held that because an officer’s mistake of law was reasonable, it could support a vehicle stop. In Heien, an officer stopped a vehicle because one of its two brake lights was out, but a court later determined that...

The police may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested. This decision involved a pair of cases in which both defendants were arrested and cell phones were seized. In both cases, officers examined electronic data on the...

The police may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested. This decision involved a pair of cases in which both defendants were arrested and cell phones were seized. In both cases, officers examined electronic data on the...

The police may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested. This decision involved a pair of cases in which both defendants were arrested and cell phones were seized. In both cases, officers examined electronic data on the...

Officers did not use excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when using deadly force to end a high speed car chase. The chase ended when officers shot and killed the fleeing driver. The driver’s daughter filed a § 1983 action, alleging that the officers used excessive force in...

Double jeopardy barred the State’s appeal of a trial court order dismissing charges for insufficiency of the evidence. After numerous continuances granted to the State because of its inability to procure its witnesses for trial, the defendant’s case was finally called for trial. When the trial...

The Court held unconstitutional a Florida law strictly defining intellectual disability for purposes of qualification for the death penalty. The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of persons with intellectual disability. Florida law defines intellectual disability to require...

Nothing in U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly establishes a rule that the Fifth Amendment requires a trial judge in a capital case to give the penalty phase jury an instruction that they should draw no adverse inferences from the defendant’s failure to testify. The Kentucky Supreme Court’s...

The Court held in this “close case” that an officer had reasonable suspicion to make a vehicle stop based on a 911 call. After a 911 caller reported that a truck had run her off the road, a police officer located the truck the caller identified and executed a traffic stop. As officers approached...

Consent to search a home by an abused woman who lived there was valid when the consent was given after her male partner, who objected, was arrested and removed from the premises by the police. Cases firmly establish that police officers may search jointly occupied premises if one of the...

Defense counsel in a capital case rendered deficient performance when he made an “inexcusable mistake of law” causing him to employ an expert “that he himself deemed inadequate.” Counsel believed that he could only obtain $1,000 for expert assistance when in fact he could have sought court...

The Fifth Amendment does not prohibit the government from introducing evidence from a court-ordered mental evaluation of a criminal defendant to rebut that defendant’s presentation of expert testimony in support of a defense of voluntary intoxication. It explained:

[We hold]...

Use at trial of the defendant’s silence during a non-custodial interview did not violate the Fifth Amendment. Without being placed in custody or receiving Miranda warnings, the defendant voluntarily answered an officer’s questions about a murder. But when asked whether his shotgun would...

The Court overruled Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), and held that any fact that increases a mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to the jury. The defendant was charged with several federal offenses, including using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of...

The Court held that retroactive application of amended Federal Sentencing Guidelines to the defendant’s convictions violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. The defendant was convicted for conduct occurring in 1999 and 2000. At sentencing he argued that the Ex Post Facto Clause required that he be...

The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the defendant, who was convicted of rape and other crimes, was entitled to federal habeas relief because the Nevada Supreme Court unreasonably applied clearly established Supreme Court precedent regarding a criminal defendant’s...

The defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated by the taking of a DNA cheek swab as part of booking procedures. When the defendant was arrested in April 2009 for menacing a group of people with a shotgun and charged in state court with assault, he was processed for detention in...

In this federal habeas case, the Court held that the Michigan Court of Appeals did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law when it retroactively applied to the defendant’s case a state supreme court decision rejecting the diminished capacity defense for first-degree murder. The...

The Court held that in drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant. After stopping the defendant’s vehicle for speeding and crossing the...

Using a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch to investigate the contents of the home is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The Court’s reasoning was based on the theory that the officers engaged in a physical intrusion of a constitutionally protected area. Applying that...

Using a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch to investigate the contents of the home is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The Court’s reasoning was based on the theory that the officers engaged in a physical intrusion of a constitutionally protected area. Applying that...

Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356 (2010) (criminal defense attorneys must inform non-citizen clients of the risks of deportation arising from guilty pleas), does not apply retroactively to cases that became final before Padilla was decided. Applying the Teague ...

Evans v. Michigan, 568 U.S. 313 (Feb. 20, 2013)

When the trial court enters a directed verdict of acquittal based on a mistake of law the erroneous acquittal constitutes an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes barring further prosecution. After the State rested in an arson prosecution, the trial court entered a directed verdict of acquittal...

Florida v. Harris, 568 U.S. 237 (Feb. 19, 2013)

Concluding that a dog sniff “was up to snuff,” the Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court and held that the dog sniff in this case provided probable cause to search a vehicle. The Court rejected the holding of the Florida Supreme Court which would have required the prosecution to present, in...

Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981) (officers executing a search warrant may detain occupants on the premises while the search is conducted), does not justify the detention of occupants beyond the immediate vicinity of the premises covered by a search warrant. In this case, the...

Concluding that a dog sniff “was up to snuff,” the Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court and held that the dog sniff in this case provided probable cause to search a vehicle. The Court rejected the holding of the Florida Supreme Court which would have required the prosecution to present, in...

In a case involving federal drug and RICO conspiracy charges the Court held that allocating to the defendant the burden of proving withdrawal from the conspiracy does not violate the Due Process Clause. This rule remains intact even when withdrawal is the basis of a statute of limitations...

The Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704, is unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The Act makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal.

The Court held that federal law preempted three of four provisions of Arizona’s immigration statute. Four provisions of the Arizona law were at issue. One section made failure to comply with federal alien registration requirements a state misdemeanor. A second section made it a misdemeanor for...

Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (June 25, 2012)

The Court held that the 8th Amendment prohibits a sentencing scheme that requires life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders.

The Court held that the Apprendi rule applies to fines. Thus, any fact that increases a defendant’s statutory maximum fine must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court held that the Apprendi rule applies to fines. Thus, any fact that increases a defendant’s statutory maximum fine must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a plurality opinion the Court affirmed the holding below that the defendant’s confrontation clause rights were not violated when the State’s DNA expert testified to an opinion based on a report done by a non-testifying analyst. The defendant Sandy Williams was charged with, among things,...

Double Jeopardy did not bar retrying the defendant on charges of capital and first-degree murder. Before the jury concluded deliberations, it reported that it was unanimous against guilt on charges of capital and first-degree murder but was deadlocked on manslaughter and had not voted on...

A “complaining witness” in a grand jury proceeding is entitled to the same immunity in an action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 as a witness who testifies at trial.

Reasonable suspicion is not required for a close visual inspection of arrestees who will be held in the general population of a detention facility. The petitioner was arrested and taken to the Burlington County Detention Center. Burlington County jail procedures required every arrestee to shower...

Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (Mar. 21, 2012)

The Court held that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by advising a defendant to reject a plea offer and it specified the appropriate remedy for the constitutional violation. The defendant was charged with assault with intent to murder, possession of a firearm by a felon,...

Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. 133 (Mar. 21, 2012)

The Court held that a defense lawyer rendered ineffective assistance by allowing a plea offer by the prosecution to expire without advising the defendant of the offer or allowing him to consider it. The defendant was charged with felony driving with a revoked license, an offense carrying a...

Howes v. Fields, 565 U.S. 499 (Feb. 21, 2012)

The Sixth Circuit erroneously concluded that a prisoner is in custody within the meaning of Miranda if the prisoner is taken aside and questioned about events that occurred outside the prison. While incarcerated, Randall Fields was escorted by a corrections officer to a conference room where two...

The government’s installation of a GPS tracking device on a vehicle and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements on public streets constitutes a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Suspecting that the defendant was involved in drug trafficking, the government...

Ryburn v. Huff, 565 U.S. 469 (Jan. 23, 2012)

The Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that officers were not entitled to qualified immunity in a § 1983 action that arose after the officers entered a home without a warrant. When officers responded to a call from a high school, the principal informed them that a student, Vincent Huff, was...

The Due Process Clause does not require a preliminary judicial inquiry into the reliability of an eyewitness identification when the identification was not procured under unnecessarily suggestive circumstances arranged by law enforcement. New Hampshire police received a call reporting that an...

Smith v. Cain, 565 U.S. 73 (Jan. 10, 2012)

The Court reversed petitioner Smith’s conviction on grounds of a Brady violation. At Smith’s trial, a single witness, Larry Boatner, linked Smith to the crime. Boatner testified that Smith and two other gunmen entered a home, demanded money and drugs, and then began shooting, killing...

Hardy v. Cross, 565 U.S. 65 (Dec. 12, 2011)

Reversing the Seventh Circuit, the Court held that the state court was not unreasonable in determining that the prosecution established the victim’s unavailability for purposes of the confrontation clause. In the defendant’s state court trial for kidnaping and sexual assault, the victim...

Bobby v. Dixon, 565 U.S. 23 (Nov. 7, 2011)

The Court, per curiam, held that the Sixth Circuit erroneously concluded that a state supreme court ruling affirming the defendant’s murder conviction was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. The defendant and an accomplice murdered the victim,...

In a straightforward application of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (June 25, 2009) (holding that forensic laboratory reports are testimonial and thus subject to Crawford), the Court held that substitute analyst testimony in an impaired driving case violated ...

In this North Carolina case, the Court held, in a five-to-four decision, that the age of a child subjected to police questioning is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis. J.D.B. was a 13-year-old, seventh-grade middle school student when he was removed from his classroom by a...

The exclusionary rule (a deterrent sanction baring the prosecution from introducing evidence obtained by way of a Fourth Amendment violation) does not apply when the police conduct a search in compliance with binding precedent that is later overruled. Alabama officers conducted a routine traffic...

In this North Carolina case, the Court held, in a five-to-four decision, that the age of a child subjected to police questioning is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis. J.D.B. was a 13-year-old, seventh-grade middle school student when he was removed from his classroom by a...

The exclusionary rule (a deterrent sanction baring the prosecution from introducing evidence obtained by way of a Fourth Amendment violation) does not apply when the police conduct a search in compliance with binding precedent that is later overruled. Alabama officers conducted a routine traffic...

In the context of a qualified immunity analysis, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit and held, in relevant part, that an objectively reasonable arrest and detention pursuant to a validly obtained material witness arrest warrant cannot be challenged as unconstitutional on the basis of...

Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. 493 (May. 23, 2011)

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court affirmed a remedial order issued by a three-judge court directing California to remedy ongoing constitutional violations involving prisoners with serious mental disorders and medical conditions primarily caused by prison overcrowding. The order below leaves the...

Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452 (May. 16, 2011)

The Court reversed and remanded a decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court and held that the exigent circumstances rule applies when police, by knocking on the door of a residence and announcing their presence, cause the occupants to attempt to destroy evidence. Police officers set up a controlled...

Bobby v. Mitts, 563 U.S. 395 (May. 2, 2011)

In a per curiam opinion, the Court reversed a Sixth Circuit decision granting relief to a defendant on grounds that the jury instructions used in his capital trial ran afoul of Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980) (holding that the death penalty may not be imposed when the jury was not...

In a capital case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals improperly granted the defendant habeas relief on his claim of penalty-phase ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant and two accomplices broke into a house at night, killing two men who interrupted the burglary. A jury convicted the...

A district attorney’s office may not be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failure to train based on a single Brady violation. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office conceded that, in prosecuting the defendant for attempted armed robbery, prosecutors failed to disclose...

In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that a convicted state prisoner seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence may assert a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, the Court noted that District Attorney’s Office for Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne, 557 U.S. 52 (2009), severely limits...

Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443 (Mar. 2, 2011)

The First Amendment shields members of a church from tort liability for picketing near a soldier’s funeral. A jury held members of the Westboro Baptist Church liable for millions of dollars in damages for picketing near a soldier’s funeral service. The picket signs reflected the church’s view...

The First Amendment shields members of a church from tort liability for picketing near a soldier’s funeral. A jury held members of the Westboro Baptist Church liable for millions of dollars in damages for picketing near a soldier’s funeral service. The picket signs reflected the church’s view...

Michigan v. Bryant, 562 U.S. 344 (Feb. 28, 2011)

Justice Sotomayor, writing for the Court, held that a mortally wounded shooting victim’s statements to first-responding officers were non-testimonial under Crawford. In the early morning, Detroit police officers responded to a radio dispatch that a man had been shot. When they arrived...

The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the state court unreasonably applied existing law when rejecting the defendant’s claim that his counsel was deficient by failing to present expert testimony on serology, pathology, and blood spatter patterns; the defendant had asserted...

Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115 (Jan. 19, 2011)

The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the state court unreasonably applied existing law when rejecting the defendant’s claim that counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the defendant’s confession to police before advising him to accept a plea offer....

Sears v. Upton, 561 U.S. 945 (June 29, 2010)

After the defendant was sentenced to death in state court, a state post-conviction court found that the defendant’s lawyer conducted a constitutionally inadequate penalty phase investigation that failed to uncover evidence of the defendant’s significant mental and psychological impairments....

The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to the states. For a more detailed discussion of this case see the blog post, McDonald’s Impact in North Carolina.

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial...

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial...

Because a search of a government employee’s text messages sent and received on a government-issued pager was reasonable, there was no violation of Fourth Amendment rights.

The defendant was arrested in connection with a shooting that left one victim dead and another injured. At the start of their interrogation of the defendant, officers presented him with a written notification of his constitutional rights, which contained Miranda warnings. During the...

The defendant was arrested in connection with a shooting that left one victim dead and another injured. At the start of their interrogation of the defendant, officers presented him with a written notification of his constitutional rights, which contained Miranda warnings. During the...

Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (May. 17, 2010)

The Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause does not permit a juvenile offender to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-homicide crime. For a more detailed discussion of this case, click...

The Court upheld the federal government’s power to civilly commit a mentally ill, sexually dangerous federal prisoner beyond the date the prisoner would otherwise be released from prison. For a more detailed discussion of this case, click here...

Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766 (May. 3, 2010)

The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision concluding that the defendant’s double jeopardy rights were not violated by a second prosecution after a mistrial on grounds of jury deadlock was not an unreasonable application of federal law. The state high court had elaborated on the standard for manifest...

Federal statute enacted to criminalize the commercial creation, sale, or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty was substantially overbroad and violated the First Amendment.

After pleading guilty to a charge of transportation of a large amount of marijuana, the defendant, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for more than 40 years, faced deportation. He challenged his plea, arguing that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to inform him...

Berghuis v. Smith, 559 U.S. 314 (Mar. 30, 2010)

The state supreme court did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law with respect to the defendant’s claim that the method of jury selection violated his sixth amendment right to be tried by an impartial jury drawn from sources reflecting a fair cross-section of the community. The...

Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U.S. 98 (Feb. 24, 2010)

The Court held that a 2½ year break in custody ended the presumption of involuntariness established in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981) (when a defendant invokes the right to have counsel present during a custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established...

Florida v. Powell, 559 U.S. 50 (Feb. 23, 2010)

Advice by law enforcement officers that the defendant had “the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of [the law enforcement officers’] questions” and that he could invoke this right “at any time . . . during th[e] interview,” satisfied Miranda’s requirement that the defendant...

Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43 (Feb. 22, 2010)

When an explanation for a peremptory challenge is based on a prospective juror’s demeanor, the trial judge should consider, among other things, any observations the judge made of the prospective juror’s demeanor during the voir dire. However, no previous decisions of the Court have held that a...

Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (Feb. 22, 2010)

Trial court erred by dismissing the prisoner’s excessive force claim on grounds that his injuries were de minimis. In an excessive force claim, the core inquiry is not whether a certain quantum of injury was sustained but rather whether the force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or...

Certiorari was granted in this case four days after the Court decided Melendez-Diaz. The case presented the following question: If a state allows a prosecutor to introduce a certificate of a forensic laboratory analysis, without presenting the testimony of the analyst who prepared the...

Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290 (Jan. 20, 2010)

The state court’s conclusion that the defendant’s counsel made a strategic decision not to pursue or present evidence of his mental deficiencies was not an unreasonable determination of the facts. The Court did not reach the question of whether the strategic decision itself was a reasonable...

The Sixth Amendment right to a public trial extends to the voir dire of prospective jurors. Trial courts are required to consider alternatives to closure even when they are not offered by the parties.

Smith v. Spisak, 558 U.S. 139 (Jan. 12, 2010)

Distinguishing Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), and holding that the penalty phase jury instructions and verdict forms were not unconstitutional. The defendant had asserted that the instructions improperly required the jury to consider in mitigation only those factors the jury...

Smith v. Spisak, 558 U.S. 139 (Jan. 12, 2010)

Even if counsel’s closing argument at the sentencing phase of a capital trial fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, the defendant could not show that he was prejudiced by this conduct.

Beard v. Kindler, 558 U.S. 53 (Dec. 8, 2009)

A federal habeas court will not review a claim rejected by a state court if the state court decision rests on an adequate and independent state law ground. The Court held that a state rule is not inadequate for purposes of this analysis just because it is a discretionary rule.

An officer’s entry into a home without a warrant was reasonable under the emergency aid doctrine. Responding to a report of a disturbance, a couple directed officers to a house where a man was "going crazy." A pickup in the driveway had a smashed front, there were damaged fence posts along the...

Porter v. McCollum, 558 U.S. 30 (Nov. 30, 2009)

A capital defendant’s trial counsel’s conduct fell below an objective standard of reasonableness when counsel failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence, including evidence of the defendant’s mental health, family background, and military service. The state court’s holding that the...

Wong v. Belmontes, 558 U.S. 15 (Nov. 16, 2009)

Even if counsel’s performance was deficient with regard to mitigating evidence in a capital trial, the defendant could not establish prejudice. Trial counsel testified that he presented a limited mitigating case in order to avoid opening the door for the prosecution to admit damaging evidence...

Bobby v. Van Hook, 558 U.S. 4 (Nov. 9, 2009)

Although restatements of professional conduct, such as ABA Guidelines, can be useful guides to whether an attorney’s conduct was reasonable, they are relevant only when they describe the professional norms prevailing at the time that the representation occurred. In this case, the lower court...

Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 557 U.S. 364 (June 25, 2009)

Although school officials had reasonable suspicion to search a middle school student’s backpack and outer clothing for pills, they violated the Fourth Amendment when they required her to pull out her bra and underwear. After learning that the student might have prescription strength and over-the...

Forensic laboratory reports are testimonial and thus subject to the rule of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). For a detailed analysis of this case, see the paper entitled “Melendez-Diaz & the Admissibility of Forensic Laboratory Reports & Chemical...

Yeager v. United States, 557 U.S. 110 (June 18, 2009)

An apparent inconsistency between a jury’s verdict of acquittal on some counts and its failure to return a verdict on other counts does not affect the preclusive force of the acquittals under the double jeopardy clause. In this case, the defendant was charged with both fraud and insider trading...

District of Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, 557 U.S. 52 (June 18, 2009)

A defendant whose criminal conviction has become final does not have a substantive due process right to gain access to evidence so that it can be subjected to DNA testing to attempt to prove innocence. Additionally, the Court rejected the holding below that Alaska’s procedures for post-...

Caperton v. Massey Coal Co., Inc., 556 U.S. 868 (June 8, 2009)

A violation of due process occurred when West Virginia Supreme Court justice Brent Benjamin denied a recusal motion. The Supreme Court of West Virginia reversed a trial court judgment which had entered a jury verdict of $50 million against A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc. Five justices heard the case...

Bobby v. Bies, 556 U.S. 825 (June 1, 2009)

Nearly ten years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) (Eighth Amendment bars execution of mentally retarded defendants), the defendant was tried for murder and other crimes. The defendant was found guilty and, after being instructed to...

Montejo v. Louisiana, 556 U.S. 778 (May. 26, 2009)

The defendant was arrested for murder, waived his Miranda rights, and gave statements in response to officers’ interrogation. He was brought before a judge for a preliminary hearing, who ordered that the defendant be held without bond and appointed counsel to represent him. Later that...

Kansas v. Ventris, 556 U.S. 586 (Apr. 29, 2009)

The defendant’s incriminating statement to a jailhouse informant, obtained in violation of the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel, was admissible on rebuttal to impeach the defendant’s trial testimony that conflicted with statement. The statement would not have been admissible during...

Cone v. Bell, 556 U.S. 449 (Apr. 28, 2009)

Although exculpatory evidence suppressed by the state was immaterial to the jury’s finding of guilt, it might have affected the jury’s decision to recommend a death sentence. The defendant offered an insanity defense based on his habitual use of an excessive amount of drugs and their affect on...

Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (Apr. 21, 2009)

Holding that officers may search a vehicle incident to arrest only if (1) the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment when the search is conducted; or (2) it is reasonable to believe that evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the...

Rivera v. Illinois, 556 U.S. 148 (Mar. 31, 2009)

During a state murder trial, the defendant was denied the opportunity to exercise a peremptory challenge against a female juror because the trial judge erroneously, but in good faith, believed that the defendant’s use of a peremptory challenge violated Batson. The Due Process Clause...

Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111 (Mar. 24, 2009)

Counsel was not ineffective by recommending that the defendant withdraw his insanity defense. The defendant entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) at his first-degree murder trial in state court. State procedure required a bifurcated trial consisting of a guilt...

Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81 (Mar. 9, 2009)

Delay caused by appointed defense counsel or a public defender is not attributable to the state in determining whether a defendant’s speedy trial right was violated, unless the delay resulted from a systemic breakdown in the public defender system.

Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (Jan. 26, 2009)

Summarizing existing law, the Court noted that a “stop and frisk” is constitutionally permissible if: (1) the stop is lawful; and (2) the officer reasonably suspects that the person stopped is armed and dangerous. It noted that that in an on-the-street encounter, the first requirement—a lawful...

Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (Jan. 26, 2009)

Summarizing existing law, the Court noted that a “stop and frisk” is constitutionally permissible if: (1) the stop is lawful; and (2) the officer reasonably suspects that the person stopped is armed and dangerous. It noted that that in an on-the-street encounter, the first requirement—a lawful...

Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335 (Jan. 26, 2009)

Supervisory prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity in connection with the plaintiff’s claims that prosecutors failed to disclose impeachment material due to the failure to train prosecutors, failure to supervise prosecutors, or failure to establish an information system in the district...

The exclusionary rule does not require the exclusion of evidence found during a search incident to arrest when the officer reasonably believed that there was an outstanding warrant but that belief was wrong because of a negligent bookkeeping error by another police employee. An officer arrested...

Oregon v. Ice, 555 U.S. 160 (Jan. 14, 2009)

Apprendi, and later rulings do not provide a Sixth Amendment right to jury trial under an Oregon law that requires findings of fact to support a judge’s decision to impose consecutive sentences. The Court made clear that states such as North Carolina, which do not require a judge to...

State v. White, 836 F.3d 437 (Sept. 9, 2016)

A local West Virginia law enforcement officer stopped a car that had veered out of its lane. In addition to the driver, there was a front seat passenger, the defendant, and one back seat passenger, Bone. When approaching the driver’s window, he smelled an odor of burned marijuana...

In this federal death penalty case, the court relied on Williams v. New York, 337 U.S. 241 (1949), to hold that the confrontation clause does not apply in the sentence selection phase (where the jury exercises discretion in selecting a life sentence or the death penalty) of a federal...

In this Harnett County case, the defendant pled guilty to impaired driving after the trial court denied her motion to suppress evidence obtained at a checking station set up to ensure compliance with Chapter 20 and to detect impaired driving.  The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order...

On discretionary review of a unanimous opinion of the Court of Appeals, 274 N.C. App. 65 (2020), the Supreme Court held in this Rowan County case that the trial court plainly erred by admitting testimony that violated the defendant’s attorney-client privilege and consequently reversed the trial...

In this Buncombe County case, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ determination that the trial court lacked a factual basis to accept the defendant’s guilty plea, but modified the holding of the Court of Appeals by vacating the plea arrangement and remanding for...

In this Buncombe County case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals that the trial court committed prejudicial error in admitting an officer’s testimony that the defendant was driving his moped when it crashed. The Supreme Court noted that a warrant application for the...

In this Surry County juvenile case, a petition was filed alleging that the juvenile committed extortion by obtaining a digital image of a victim, without her knowledge or consent, in which she was in only her bra and underwear. The petition also alleged that the juvenile used the image to...

In this Warren County case, the defendant moved for postconviction DNA testing under G.S. 15A-269 more than two decades after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The trial court determined that the defendant had failed to show that the requested testing would be material to his...

In this Yadkin County case, a defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2013. The defendant filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting that the indictment for the attempted...

In this Davidson County case, the defendant was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon after he shot and killed a man who was visiting his home. The trial judge rejected the defendant’s request for an instruction under N.C.P.I.—Crim. 308....

In this Lee County case, the trial judge granted a motion for appropriate relief and awarded a new trial for a defendant who was convicted of first-degree murder committed when he was fourteen years old, largely on the basis of a confession made during a police interrogation conducted...

In this Cabarrus County case involving a defendant convicted of obtaining property by false pretenses, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, 2021-NCCOA-313, which had concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a special condition of...

The defendant was indicted for seven crimes arising from a domestic violence incident. The defendant severely beat his wife, resulting in her being hospitalized for six days where she was treated for extensive swelling and bruising to face and neck, fractures to rib bones and bones around her...

The defendant was charged with violating G.S. 14-4 for violation of a city ordinance. The defendant was issued a criminal summons stating that his property was in violation of City of Fayetteville Code of Ordinances Section 22-16(a) for failure to remove all metal items from his yard after due...

The defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The defendant was sentenced to active terms of 176-221 months imprisonment for the second-degree murder charge and 16-20 months imprisonment for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon...

The defendant was charged with two counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class H felony offense, and attaining the status of a habitual felon. The defendant entered an Alford plea to the sexual-exploitation charges and stipulated to having attained habitual-felon...

The facts of this Haywood County case were previously summarized ...

The defendant was convicted at trial of indecent liberties with a minor in Pitt County. The trial court allowed an expert witness for the State to testify the minor child had been sexually abused, despite a lack of physical evidence. The defendant did not object at the time. The same expert...

The defendant was tried for armed robbery and possession of firearm by felon in Wake County. When the prosecution struck two Black jurors from the panel, defense counsel made a Batson challenge. The prosecution argued the strikes were based on the jurors’ body language and failure to...

In this probation revocation case from Buncombe County, the defendant failed to contact his probation officer for nearly three months until his arrest. After more than month of not being able to contact the defendant, the probation officer filed a violation report accusing him of absconding and...

Under G.S. 14-51.4, a person may not claim self-defense if the person was attempting a felony, committing a felony, or escaping from the commission of a felony at the time of the use of force...

The defendant was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping in Cabarrus County and was convicted at trial. Benzodiazepines were found in the victim’s urine, and the State presented expert testimony at trial on the urinalysis results. The expert witness did not conduct the...

In this case from Mecklenburg County, the defendant was convicted of violating a domestic violence protective order (“DVPO”) while in possession of a deadly weapon, as well as felony breaking or entering in violation of the DVPO, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault on a female. The...

The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that their sweepstakes video games were lawful and did not violate G.S. 14-306.4 (banning certain video sweepstakes games). For the third time,...

The defendant was charged with and convicted of dogfighting and related offenses in Orange County. (1) He argued the evidence was insufficient to establish his specific intent to keep the dogs for purposes of fighting. The court disagreed. When the county Animal Services officials visited the...

The facts of this case were previously summarized following the Court of Appeals decision in State v. Schalow, 269 N.C. App. 369 (2020) (“Schalow II“), available ...

The facts of this case were previously summarized following the Court of Appeals decision in State v. Taylor, 270 N.C. App. 514 (2020), available here....

The state obtained recordings of several hundred phone calls that the defendant made while he was in jail awaiting trial on charges of murder, armed robbery, and assault on a government official. The charges arose out of a robbery at a gas station where the clerk was killed and an officer...

The Supreme Court affirmed per curiam State v. Wright, 273 N.C. App. 188 (2020), a case where the Court of Appeals majority determined there was sufficient evidence of the value of a...

The Court of Appeals properly applied the comparative elements test of State v. Sanders, 367 N.C. 716 (2014) in affirming the trial court’s consideration of the defendant’s Georgia conviction for statutory rape as equivalent to a North Carolina Class B1 felony for purposes of...

The trial court did not err by ordering the defendant to submit to lifetime SBM after he pleaded guilty to first-degree forcible rape and other offenses.  In State v. Strudwick, 273 N.C. App. 676 (2020), the Court of...

Even if the trial court erred by declining to instruct the jury using the defendant’s requested modified self-defense instruction, the defendant did not demonstrate that any such error was prejudicial.  Testimony at trial described alternate versions of events that ultimately culminated in...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant committed multiple assaults against his girlfriend and the Court was equally divided as to whether there was sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant used his hands, feet, or teeth as deadly weapons.  The Court characterized “the...

In this case involving the trial court’s imposition of lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) following the defendant’s conviction for statutory rape of a child by an adult and other sex offenses, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred by allowing the defendant’...

In this case involving the trial court’s imposition of lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) following the defendant’s conviction for an aggravated sex offense, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the order imposing lifetime SBM effected a reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment...

The defendant was charged with felony trafficking in methamphetamine and misdemeanor simple possession of marijuana. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a notice of her intent to rely upon the affirmative defense of duress. At trial, the detective who was present at the scene testified for...

An officer on patrol ran the license plate of the car the defendant was driving and discovered that the license plate was registered to another car. The officer initiated a traffic stop. As the officer approached the driver’s side of the car, he noticed that the defendant had raised his...

The defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2003. The defendant challenged his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, but the Supreme Court unanimously found no error. The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. Subsequently, the...

A few days after the defendant was evicted from her apartment, the defendant, along with one identified companion and one unidentified companion, broke into her landlord’s home. The defendant was armed with a machete and both companions were armed with a hammer. When the three entered the...

The defendant was indicted for assault on a female, habitual misdemeanor assault, and attaining habitual felon status. Following the presentation of the evidence at trial, the trial court instructed the jury on the charges of assault on a female and habitual misdemeanor assault. During the...

In this case where the defendant was convicted of violating a DVPO by attempting to purchase a firearm, the indictment was facially valid and the trial court did not err in concluding that the defendant forfeited her right to appointed counsel.

Reciting general...

The defendant was convicted of possession of firearm by a felon for his involvement in a drug transaction in which one of the would-be-drug-buyers was shot and killed. Witnesses described the defendant, who they said pulled out a revolver and moved toward the car where the victim was...

The defendant was convicted in a bench trial of speeding 94 miles per hour in a 65 mile-per-hour zone. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals determined that even though the trial court failed to follow the procedure set forth in N.C.G.S. § 15A-1201 for waiver of defendant’s right to a...

The defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting a law enforcement officer who was attempting to serve a warrant for the defendant’s arrest for violating probation. During closing argument, the prosecutor stated:

[You m]ight...

The plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a determination, among other things, that its video gaming enterprise did not constitute an unlawful sweepstakes in violation of G.S. 14-306.4. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The plaintiff appealed, and the Court of...

The defendant was convicted in a bench trial of first-degree murder and negligent child abuse inflicting serious injury for starving and failing to provide medical treatment to his four-year-old disabled stepson, Malachi. The defendant appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The...

The defendant was stopped for a traffic violation after leaving a Buncombe County house that officers were surveilling due to complaints of illegal drug activity. Officers recovered from the defendant’s car one large bag and several smaller bags of a white crystalline substance, a bag of a...

Defendant was convicted of three counts of indecent liberties with a child for sexually abusing M.C., the seven-year-old daughter of his then-romantic-partner. The abuse was discovered after M.C.’s sister was born with illegal drugs in her system, prompting the involvement of the Forsyth...

The defendant was convicted in 1997 of two counts of first-degree statutory sex offense and was sentenced as a prior record level IV to 339 - 416 months in prison.  He filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR), arguing that he should have been sentenced at prior record level III.  Before...

The defendant was tried for possession of a firearm by a felon, first-degree kidnapping, burglary, DVPO violations with a deadly weapon, first-degree rape and first-degree forcible sexual offense arising from the violent kidnapping and rape of his former girlfriend.

(1)...

The defendant was charged with assault of a detention officer causing physical injury in Bertie County. Defense counsel obtained a capacity evaluation of the defendant. It showed that the defendant was not capable to stand trial but indicated his capacity could be restored. At a hearing on the...

In 2015, the defendant was charged with several drug crimes and with having attained habitual felon status. In November 2016, a forensic psychologist evaluated the defendant and determined that he suffered from an intellectual disability, memory impairment, and overall neurological...

In 2018, the defendant was charged with felony breaking or entering a motor vehicle and other crimes for an incident involving the theft of several items from a car. Before trial, the defendant gave notice of her intent to raise a defense of voluntary intoxication. The trial court denied...

Six defendants were alleged to have committed an armed robbery at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Amphitheater. The trial judge granted the State’s motion to try three of the defendant’s jointly, including Mr. Melvin. Before and during trial, Melvin repeatedly moved to sever his case from that...

With one justice not participating in the case and the remaining six justices divided equally, the decision of the Court of Appeals was left undisturbed and stands without precedential value. The decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 843 S.E.2d 700 (2020), was previously...

In 2013, the defendant’s car collided with another vehicle, killing its driver. The defendant was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released. The State later obtained an order directing the hospital to provide the defendant’s medical records and blood. Tests of the blood...

On appeal, the defendant’s sole argument was that the trial court erred because his waiver of counsel was not voluntary and was a result of the defendant’s belief that representing himself was the only way to avoid delaying his trial. On May 19, 2019, the defendant requested that his first...

The State’s evidence tended to show that the defendant was driving a van with a trailer attached behind it when he cut off two motorcycles, made rude gestures, and caused one of the motorcycles to crash. The driver of the motorcycle sustained serious injuries and a passenger died as a result of...

The defendant Molly Corbett was the daughter of the co-defendant, Thomas Marten. The two were charged with second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter following an altercation with Molly’s husband in Davidson County. The altercation occurred at the couple’s home while Molly’s mother and...

The defendant in this Wake County case was convicted at trial of accessory after the fact to sexual abuse by a substitute parent, felony obstruction of justice based on her failure to report the abuse, and an additional count of felony obstruction based on her interference with the...

The defendant was found guilty of criminal contempt relating to his unauthorized Facebook livestreaming of Macon County criminal superior court proceedings. The trial judge sentenced the defendant to 30 days in jail but suspended the sentence on numerous conditions. One condition required...

While living with family friends in Wake County, the defendant placed a secret camera in various rooms at different times to record an adult female occupant. He later pled guilty to one count of felony secret peeping. Under the peeping statute, G.S. 14-202(l), the defendant may be required...

In this Bertie County case, the defendant was charged with first-degree murder and felony possession of a weapon by a prisoner for an alleged fight at Bertie Correctional Institution that left another inmate dead. After court adjourned on the first day of the defendant’s trial, one of the...

The Court of Appeals previously published an opinion in this case on October 6, 2020, and a summary of that opinion is available here. As noted in the earlier summary, the defendant...

In re J.D., 376 N.C. 148 (Dec. 18, 2020)

In this juvenile case, the trial court erred by denying the respondent’s motions to dismiss charges of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and first-degree forcible sexual offense but did not err by accepting his admission of attempted larceny in an incident unrelated to the...

State v. Farmer, 376 N.C. 407 (Dec. 18, 2020)

In this case involving charges of first-degree sex offense with a child and indecent liberties, the court found that the procedural circumstances were “unsettling” but did not constitute an infringement upon the defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.  In May 2012, the...

State v. Crump, 376 N.C. 375 (Dec. 18, 2020)

The defendant was indicted for multiple charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of firearm by a felon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a firearm. The charges arose out of the robbery of an illegal poker game and the...

Defendant was charged in 2012 with several counts of second-degree sex offense and taking indecent liberties against his step-daughter, and went to trial in 2018. During the intervening six years, defendant received a total of seven mental health evaluations in which there were “...

The defendant was on trial for four counts of embezzlement when she attempted to commit suicide by ingesting 60 Xanax tablets during an evening recess. The defendant was found unresponsive, taken to the hospital, and involuntarily committed for evaluation and treatment. The trial was...

State v. Best, 376 N.C. 340 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Defendant filed an MAR challenging his 1993 convictions and death sentence for burglary, rape, armed robbery, and two counts of first-degree murder. The MAR alleged that the state failed to disclose material and exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady. At his...

State v. Warden, 376 N.C. 503 (Dec. 18, 2020)

The defendant was indicted for three incidents of sexual abuse against his step-daughter and went to trial. The victim testified at trial about the abuse, and eight other witnesses testified regarding the investigation and corroboration of the victim’s testimony. One of the state’s...

State v. Steen, 376 N.C. 469 (Dec. 18, 2020)

The defendant appealed from his conviction for the first-degree murder of his grandfather based on the felony murder rule using the attempted murder of his mother with a deadly weapon as the predicate felony. The trial court instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of...

State v. Glover, 376 N.C. 420 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Officers investigating complaints of drug activity at a home where the defendant lived with several others discovered methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in a small yellow tin in a dresser in the alcove near defendant’s bedroom, an area that the defendant claimed as his personal space....

State v. Chandler, 376 N.C. 361 (Dec. 18, 2020)

Under G.S. 15A-1023(c), a trial court does not have the discretion to reject a defendant’s guilty plea when the plea is the defendant’s informed choice, is supported by a factual basis, and is the product of an agreement where the prosecutor does not make any recommendations concerning...

In this Stokes County case, the defendant was an undocumented Mexican citizen living in North Carolina. In 2010, he was charged with felony drug offenses and pled guilty. Defense counsel advised the defendant that there “may” be immigration consequences as a result. In 2017, he was arrested by...

This Davidson County case involved the sexual abuse of a girl at ages 10 and 13. The defendant was the child’s grandfather. In addition to assaulting the child, the defendant also abused the child’s mother, his daughter. The child’s mother reportedly traded sex with her daughter for drugs from...

The defendant was charged with first degree burglary after she was found inside the victims’ home in the early morning hours, having taken items from their cars and placed them inside a purse belonging to one of the homeowners. The defendant appeared to be impaired at the time she was arrested....

The defendant was arrested for impaired driving and posted bond on same day through the bail agent. The defendant subsequently failed to appear, and an order was issued for her arrest. The court subsequently mailed a bond forfeiture notice to the bail agent. The bail agent filed a motion...

In 2000, the defendant was convicted of felony possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a weapon on school property, misdemeanor resisting a public officer, second-degree trespass, and carrying a concealed weapon. The defendant gave notice of appeal in open...

State v. Pabon, 273 N.C.App. 645, 850 S.E.2d 512 (Oct. 6, 2020) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 2022-NCSC-16, 867 S.E.2d 632 (Feb 11 2022)

In this Cabarrus County case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape. After developing a friendship with the victim, he drugged her without her knowledge, took her to a friend’s house and raped her. The defendant appealed, raising numerous challenges.

...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision below, 259 N.C. App. 127 (2018), the court reversed the Court of Appeals and held that appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to cite a particular line of cases because the facts of this case were distinguishable from those in the line...

State v. Byers, 375 N.C. 386 (Sept. 25, 2020)

Considering an issue of first impression, the court held that the pro se indigent defendant made an insufficient showing that post-conviction DNA testing “may be material to [his] claim of wrongful conviction” and consequently the trial court did not err by denying his motion for DNA...

State v. Augustine, 375 N.C. 376 (Sept. 25, 2020)

The complex procedural history of this case, which involves motions for appropriate relief filed by three defendants under the Racial Justice Act and associated proceedings occurring over a years-long period of time when the RJA was amended and then repealed, is recounted in detail in the court’...

State v. Walters, 375 N.C. 484 (Sept. 25, 2020)

In a per curiam opinion, for the reasons stated in State v. Robinson, ___ N.C. ___, 846 S.E.2d 711 (2020) the court vacated the trial court’s order dismissing the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief filed pursuant to the Racial Justice Act and remanded the case for the...

State v. Golphin, 375 N.C. 432 (Sept. 25, 2020)

In a per curiam opinion, for the reasons stated in State v. Robinson, ___ N.C. ___, 846 S.E.2d 711 (2020) the court vacated the trial court’s order dismissing the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief filed pursuant to the Racial Justice Act and remanded the case for the...

State v. Greenfield, 375 N.C. 434 (Sept. 25, 2020)

In this felony murder case based on the underlying felony of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, the trial court erred by not instructing the jury on self-defense and the doctrine of transferred intent.  The evidence at trial showed that the defendant and...

The rule of State v. Harbison, 315 N.C. 175 (1985) that a criminal defendant suffers a per se violation of the right to effective assistance of counsel when counsel concedes the defendant’s guilt to the jury without the defendant’s prior consent applies to situations involving an...

In this sex offense case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a mistrial and instead giving a curative instruction to the jury in response to the State’s objectionable questioning of a witness.  Defense counsel did not admit the defendant’s guilt...

The trial court properly denied the Surety’s motion for relief from a bond forfeiture order where the motion was made prior to entry of final judgment and was not based on one of the seven grounds for relief enumerated in G.S. 15A-544.5(b).  The basis for the Surety’s motion for relief was...

The trial court had no statutory authority to enter a bail bond forfeiture where the defendant was not “released” from custody within the meaning of Article 26 of G.S. Chapter 15A because he was subject to an ICE detainer, was picked up by federal agents, and was deported to Mexico.  In 2018,...

In this case involving a waiver of counsel at a probation revocation hearing and the defendant’s appeal of the trial court’s revocation of her probation, the court declined to dismiss the appeal due to the defendant’s failure to comply with Rule 4 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure and...

State v. Smith, 375 N.C. 224 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant worked full-time at Knightdale High School, initially as an In-School Suspension teacher and then as a Physical Education teacher. Although not certified as a teacher, he worked the same hours as a certified teacher, which included a regularly scheduled planning period. During his...

State v. Cox, 375 N.C. 165 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant, along with two others, went to the home of an individual to whom they paid cash to provide them with controlled substances. The individual neither obtained the illegal drugs nor returned any of the drug purchase money to the defendant. At the home of the individual, the individual...

State v. Coley, 375 N.C. 156 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant was indicted for attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon. On June 7, 2016, the defendant was sitting outside of a neighbor’s house with a group of friends when the defendant’s...

After violating his probation, the defendant was indicted on charges of interfering with an electronic monitoring device and attaining the status of a habitual felon. The habitual felon indictment charged defendant with attaining habitual felon status based on three prior felony convictions in...

State v. Robinson, 375 N.C. 173 (Aug. 14, 2020)

The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1994. The defendant filed a timely motion for appropriate relief pursuant to the RJA in 2010. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court resentenced the defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of...

The defendant was charged with multiple crimes related to a break-in at the home of the elected district attorney. The trial court allowed the defendant’s first appointed lawyer to withdraw based on an unspecified conflict in February 2018. In April 2018 his second appointed lawyer also moved to...

In this Moore County case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree rape and sex offense, crime against nature, possession of firearm by felon, communicating threats and various assaults stemming from attacks on his estranged then-wife. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court...

Because the trial court’s order setting aside a bond forfeiture failed to make material findings of fact, conclusions of law, or any ruling as to whether a bail agent’s motion to set aside the forfeiture should be considered and set aside under G.S. 15A-544.5(b)(7), rather than under...

State v. Fields, 374 N.C. 629 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was convicted after a jury trial of habitual misdemeanor assault and felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury for the same assaultive act. The trial court imposed consecutive sentences. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by sentencing him for...

State v. Ramseur, 374 N.C. 658 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder based on offenses committed in 2007. He was sentenced to death in 2010. That same year he filed a motion for appropriate relief under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act (RJA), but the trial court did not rule on it until...

State v. Burke, 374 N.C. 617 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was sentenced to death for first-degree murder in 1993. He filed a first motion for appropriate relief in 1997, which was denied in 2011. He filed a new MAR under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act (the RJA MAR) in 2010, amending it twice after the General Assembly amended...

State v. Taylor, 374 N.C. 710 (June 5, 2020)

In 2011 the defendant was charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon for his participation in a murder allegedly committed by Taurus Locklear and Shawn Jones. A plea agreement allowed the defendant to plead...

State v. Bennett, 374 N.C. 579 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and multiple drug crimes including drug trafficking. During jury selection, the State peremptorily challenged two potential jurors who were black before accepting a white juror. The defendant made a...

Carlos Chavez and Luis Lopez, initially charged with state crimes and held in pretrial detention in the Mecklenburg County Jail, both became eligible for release from their state charges on October 13, 2017. But they were not released. The Sheriff, a participant in a § 287(g) agreement...

State v. Keller, 374 N.C. 637 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was charged with solicitation of a child by computer under G.S. 14-202.3 after he responded to a Craigslist personal advertisement posted by a police detective posing as a 15-year-old. At trial the defendant requested a jury instruction on the defense of entrapment, which the...

State v. Capps, 374 N.C. 621 (June 5, 2020)

The defendant was charged by arrest warrant with misdemeanor injury to personal property, misdemeanor larceny, and reckless driving after he cut off the end of a truck stop’s air hose, attempted to strike his passenger with it, and then quickly fled with it when confronted by an undercover...

In a case involving charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a weapon on educational property, the defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his argument that the trial court erred by denying his pretrial suppression motions related to the lawfulness of a traffic...

The defendant met his former girlfriend and new boyfriend, the victim in the case, at a bar. The defendant asked the victim to step outside to talk. During the exchange, the victim told the defendant to hit him. (According to the concurrence, the victim said, “If you want to hit me, hit me...

The plaintiff brought a facial constitutional challenge to a state law concerning automated red-light traffic cameras in the City of Greenville. She alleged the law violated the North Carolina Constitution prohibiting local laws relating to health and sued the City of Greenville, Pitt...

The defendant was convicted of felony breaking or entering in 17 CRS 54550 and felony larceny after breaking or entering in 17 CRS 54551. The trial judge sentenced him to two consecutive 8 to 19 months prison terms, suspended the sentences, and placed him on probation. Violation reports...

The defendant was convicted of trafficking in opium or heroin. He argued on appeal that the trial court committed plain error by allowing the State to introduce into evidence the drugs found in his vehicle. The Court of Appeals concluded that the defendant waived appellate review of this claim...

In this Stanly County case, no reasonable suspicion existed when a trooper, already conducting a traffic stop, observed the defendant gesturing with his middle finger from the passenger side of a car driving past the stop. The Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the State’s argument that the...

State v. Mylett, 374 N.C. 376 (May. 1, 2020)

The defendant was the twin brother of another criminal defendant and was attending his brother’s trial for assault on a government official in Watauga County (itself the subject of a published opinion, here). Following the...

State v. Hobbs, 374 N.C. 345 (May. 1, 2020)

The defendant was tried capitally in Cumberland County and convicted of first-degree murder (among other offenses). On appeal, he argued the trial court erred in denying his Batson challenges to three peremptory strikes used by the State against black jurors during jury selection. The...

State v. Bailey, 374 N.C. 332 (May. 1, 2020)

This Carteret County drug case involved a challenge to a search warrant for the defendant’s home. A detective observed what he believed to be a drug transaction occur in a parking lot between a Jeep and another car. He knew the occupants of the Jeep and their address. The detective also knew...

State v. Diaz-Tomas, 271 N.C.App. 97, 841 S.E.2d 355 (Apr. 21, 2020)

In 2015, the defendant was charged with impaired driving and driving without an operator’s license. He failed to appear on the charges in 2016, which prompted the district court to issue an order for arrest and the State to dismiss the case with leave. In 2018 the defendant was arrested on...

In March 2018 the defendant was charged with multiple crimes after breaking into a gas station. In August 2018, the trial court first addressed the defendant’s right to counsel. The defendant said that he did not want a lawyer, but then, when asked by the judge, “You’re not just waiving...

The defendant was convicted of misdemeanor stalking in district court in Forsyth County and sentenced to time served. The defendant filed a pro se written notice of de novo appeal to superior court on the ninth day after the district court’s judgment. The State moved to dismiss the appeal under...

This Pitt County case involved charges of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury (“AWDWIKISI”) and felony breaking or entering. Before trial, the defendant signed a document allowing his attorney to argue that he was guilty of...

State v. Conley, 374 N.C. 209 (Apr. 3, 2020)

The defendant in this case was in possession of five guns and two knives on educational property. After threatening a school bus driver and attempting to shoot the first responding deputy, the defendant was taken into custody after a struggle with additional officers. Following a jury...

State v. Golder, 374 N.C. 238 (Apr. 3, 2020)

The defendant in this case was not a licensed bondsman, but over a period of five to six years he paid an employee at the clerk’s office to make entries into a computer record system indicating that the defendant had filed motions to set aside the bond forfeiture in numerous cases, even...

The defendant’s bond was forfeited after he failed to appear for court. After the defendant was served with an order for arrest for failing to appear, the surety on his bond (1st Atlantic Surety Company) filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture...

Over a dissent and with one judge concurring in result only, the court determined that the trial court erred by failing to give the defendant an opportunity to be heard on the issue attorney’s fees prior to entering a civil judgment against him.  Among several procedural issues in this case was...

State v. Hoyle, 373 N.C. 454 (Feb. 28, 2020)

A defendant in a felony indecent exposure case under G.S. 14-190.9(a1) (person at least 18 years of age exposing private parts in the presence of a person less than 16) is not entitled to an instruction requiring the jury to find that the victim could have seen the exposed private part had the...

State v. Seam, 373 N.C. 529 (Feb. 28, 2020)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, which had held that his sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for his conviction of felony murder when he was 16 years old was not grossly disproportionate to his crime under the both the Eighth Amendment and...

State v. Carver, 373 N.C. 453 (Feb. 28, 2020)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 828 S.E.2.d 195 (2019), which had held over a dissent that no reasonable suspicion supported a warrantless traffic stop based on an anonymous tip. 

A sheriff’s deputy received a dispatch call,...

State v. Carey, 373 N.C. 445 (Feb. 28, 2020)

In this impersonating a law enforcement officer and possession of a weapon of mass death and destruction case, the Court of Appeals erred by concluding that “flash bang” grenades did not constitute weapons of mass death and destruction as defined in G.S. 14-288.8(c)(1).  The defendant had...

State v. Reed, 373 N.C. 498 (Feb. 28, 2020)

In this drug trafficking case arising out of a traffic stop, the court affirmed the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the law enforcement officer who arrested the defendant violated the Fourth amendment by prolonging the stop without the defendant’s consent or a reasonable articulable...

In this case where the defendant was tried without counsel for driving with a revoked license, RDO, and other charges, the Court of Appeals was correct in holding that the defendant did not forfeit his right to counsel and that the trial court therefore was required to ensure that the defendant’...

State v. Nobles, 373 N.C. 471 (Feb. 28, 2020)

The defendant did not sufficiently demonstrate that he qualifies as an “Indian” under the federal Indian Major Crimes Act (IMCA) and, consequently, the trial court did not err in refusing to dismiss state murder, robbery, and weapons charges on jurisdictional grounds or in ruling that the...

State v. Mercer, 373 N.C. 459 (Feb. 28, 2020)

Confronting a question of first impression, the court held that “in narrow and extraordinary circumstances” the common law defense of justification may be an affirmative defense to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon under G.S. 14-415.1.  Noting that justification is an affirmative...

State v. Alonzo, 373 N.C. 437 (Feb. 28, 2020)

Contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Appeals below, the trial court did not err in this felony child abuse case under G.S. 14-318.4 by failing to instruct the jury that the term “sexual act” for purposes of the offense is the definition provided for the term in what is now Article 7B...

(1) At his trial for habitual DWI, the defendant took the stand, denied driving, and admitted his prior DWI convictions in explaining why he did not drive on the night in question and why, based on his past interactions with law enforcement, he did not speak to the arresting officers. On cross-...

During cross-examination of the complaining witness in a case involving a charge of assault on a female, the defendant began a line of questions to which the State objected. The trial judge excused the jury and conducted a voir dire, during which the defendant’s counsel demonstrated the proposed...

In this Duplin County case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of financial card fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses, identity theft, and habitual felon. She appealed, arguing that her motion to dismiss for insufficiency of the evidence should have been granted as to the identity...

The defendant was convicted of impaired driving in Macon County and appealed. The defendant was driving a moped and collided with a car. A trooper responded, investigating and preparing a crash report (and later charging the defendant). At trial, the trooper testified during cross-examination by...

The defendant was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder after he asked someone he met through a mutual acquaintance (“Edwards”) to murder his wife for money. After repeated requests from the defendant over the next few days, Edwards contacted law enforcement and assisted their...

In a larceny case, the State failed to present sufficient evidence that the defendant was the perpetrator.  The State’s evidence at trial showed that audio equipment had been taken from Manna Baptist Church after the church doors were inadvertently left unlocked following a Wednesday evening...

In this sex offense and indecent liberties case, the court held: (1) a sex offense indictment that identified the child victim as “Victim #1” was fatally defective; (2) the trial court’s erroneous failure to conduct a jury instruction conference prior to submitting the existence of a statutory...

In 1999, the defendant was found guilty of assault on a female, and the trial judge entered a prayer for judgment continued (PJC) with a condition that the defendant pay costs of court. In 2017, the defendant was denied a concealed carry permit in West Virginia on the ground that his 1999 case...

State v. Harvin, 268 N.C.App. 572, 836 S.E.2d 899 (Dec. 3, 2019) temp. stay granted, 373 N.C. 595, 835 S.E.2d 851 (Dec 20 2019)

The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. The...

The defendant pled guilty to two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine after the trial court denied his motion to suppress items seized during a search. The case came back before the court of appeals on remand from the supreme court for reconsideration in light of State v. Ledbetter,...

The defendant was placed on probation in district court pursuant to a formal deferred prosecution agreement under G.S. 15A-1341(a1). A district court judge found him in violation and revoked his deferred prosecution probation. The defendant appealed to superior court for a de novo violation...

The defendant was convicted by a jury of two counts of statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult and one count of first-degree kidnapping based on his repeated sexual assaults of his seven-year-old niece. The trial court sentenced the defendant to prison and ordered him to enroll in...

The defendant’s husband sexually abused the defendant’s daughter. (The husband was not the daughter’s biological father, but he had adopted her after he married her mother.) The daughter told an aunt about the abuse. This led to law enforcement and DSS investigations. However, the defendant...

State v. Malone, 373 N.C. 134 (Nov. 1, 2019)

Two men were angry about being cheated in a drug deal. They approached a house and shot two other men – one fatally – who they thought were involved in the rip-off. The victims were on the front porch at the time of the shooting. Two women who were also on the porch viewed photo lineups in an...

The defendant was seen handling a black box in connection with a possible drug transaction/ransom payment. The next day, officers found a black box full of cocaine in the woods nearby. The defendant was charged with and convicted of trafficking by possession. He appealed, arguing that the State’...

In this Watauga County case for indecent liberties, the defendant was accused of improper contact with a child in an incident allegedly witnessed by the child’s sister and mother. The State sought to compel the mother and two daughters to testify at trial. After jury was impaneled and opening...

In 2007, the defendant shot and killed one victim, a family friend, and seriously injured a second victim, his mother. After he was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder, the defendant was evaluated and found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and substance abuse...

The defendant began a relationship with B.F. in 2012. The criminal offenses occurred in 2014, when B.F. brought her daughter L.F. (age 3 at the time) to the defendant’s parents’ house. While B.F. and L.F. were sitting on a bed with the defendant and watching a children’s television show, the...

State v. Ryan, 371 N.C. 445 (Sept. 27, 2019)

After a hung jury and mistrial in 2009, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2010 and sentenced to death. Defendant appealed, but the case was remanded to the trial court to resolve the defendant’s post-conviction motions, including a motion...

The defendant was charged with drug offenses. A lawyer was appointed to represent him. Immediately before trial, the defendant stated that he wanted to hire a lawyer instead and could afford to do so. A superior court judge determined that appointed counsel was providing effective assistance and...

The defendant was charged with driving while license revoked, not an impaired revocation; assault on a female; possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a felony; attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon; and habitual felon status. The State proceeded to trial on the charges...

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, State v. Parisi, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 228 (2018) (discussed in an earlier blog post by Shea Denning, https://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/got-...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 821 S.E.2d 268 (2018), the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals misapplied State v. Ward, 356 N.C. 133 (2010), when it held that the absence of a scientifically valid chemical...

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 718 (2018), the Supreme Court held that the trial court violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. In this murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a...

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 6 (2018), the Supreme Court determined that the evidence presented at trial supported the defendant’s conviction under the doctrine of recent possession. Pursuant to a tip, a detective discovered stolen...

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 18 (2018), the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision finding satellite-based monitoring (SBM) to be an unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional search in the defendant’s case....

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 843 (2018), the Supreme Court considered the statutory requirements for revoking probation after it has expired. In this case the defendant’s probation officer filed a violation report on May 12, 2016 alleging...

On discretionary review of a consolidated appeal from two decisions of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 816 S.E.2d 212 (2018), and ___ N.C. App. ___, 812 S.E.2d 730 (2018) (unpublished), the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decisions of the Court of Appeals. A...

(1) On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 450 (2017), the court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that the trial judge erred by admitting the defendant’s affidavit of indigency into evidence over the defendant’s objection...

(1) On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. ___, 818 S.E.2d 324 (2018), the court, over a dissent, reversed the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to send a charge of disorderly conduct, based upon the juvenile’s act of throwing a chair in...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___ (2018), the court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision vacating the defendant’s conviction on double jeopardy grounds. In this murder case, the defendant’s first trial ended in a mistrial due to a...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to formally arraign him on the indictment alleging the prior convictions.  G.S. 15A-928 mandates that in cases where a previous conviction elevates a...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the use of an ACIS printout to prove one of the defendant’s prior convictions during the habitual felon phase of trial was competent evidence that did not violate the best evidence rule.  Citing State v....

In this bond forfeiture case, the trial court erred by granting the sureties relief from a bond forfeiture before the date of the forfeited bond’s final judgment.  The court first determined that the Board of Education’s appeal of the trial court’s grant of relief was timely as it was filed two...

In this habitual larceny case where the defendant was sentenced as a habitual felon, the defendant did not establish that his trial counsel did not have authority to stipulate to the prior convictions used to elevate his charge to habitual larceny.  Noting that in other contexts it had expressly...

In a 5-to-1 decision, the Court affirmed the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 500 (2018) (unpublished), finding that the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense or imperfect self-defense in the stabbing death of...

The Court per curiam affirmed the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 178 (2018), finding no error in the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss a felony maintaining a vehicle for keeping or selling controlled substances charge...

In this felon in possession of a firearm case, the defendant was not deprived of effective assistance of counsel when the trial court rejected defense counsel’s attempt to stipulate to the fact that the defendant was a convicted felon where the defendant disagreed with the stipulation. Before...

The court per curiam affirmed a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 618 (2018), holding that because an officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant for impaired driving, the trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to suppress....

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 813 S.E.2d 463 (2018), the court held that although the defendant failed to preserve his argument that the trial court erred by imposing lifetime SBM without determining whether the monitoring was a...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 154 (2017), the court held that the State does not have a right to appeal orders granting expunctions under G.S. 15A-145.5. Deciding an issue of first impression, the court noted that the...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 563 (2017) in this child sex case, the court held that an indictment identifying the alleged victim only as “Victim #1” is facially invalid. Although the arrest warrant and the...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 816 S.E.2d 207 (2018), the court held that a manufacturing marijuana indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant “did manufacture [marijuana] . . . by producing,...

On writ of certiorari of a divided decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 215 (2018), the court held that the defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s decision to allow the jury to review photographs in the jury room without the defendant’s consent. At trial at...

On writ of certiorari from a divided decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 215 (2018), the court held that the trial court’s decision to include an “aggressor” instruction in its self-defense instructions did not constitute plain error. The trial court, without any...

The court per curiam affirmed an unpublished decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 813 S.E.2d 478 (2018) holding that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief (MAR) alleging ineffective assistance of appellate counsel with...

In this child sexual assault case, the defendant failed to show prejudice caused by the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for a continuance. That motion asserted that the district attorney did not file an adequate trial calendar 10 or more days before trial in violation of G.S. 7A-...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 178 (2017), the court reversed the decision below holding that the short form indictment for attempted first-degree murder was not fatally defective. G.S. 15-144 provides short...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 808 S.E.2d 178 (2017), the court held that the prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument in this first-degree murder case were not so grossly improper as to require the trial court to...

In this drug case, the defendant failed to preserve her argument that the trial court erred by failing to sua sponte conduct a hearing to confirm that the defendant’s in-custody statements to law enforcement were knowing and voluntary. The defendant did not move to suppress the statements before...

In this indecent liberties case, the defendant waived any right of appellate review with respect to his arguments challenging admission of his inculpatory statements (he had asserted a Miranda violation and that the statements were involuntary). The defendant has the burden of establishing that...

State v. Conley, 264 N.C.App. 85, 825 S.E.2d 10 (Feb. 19, 2019) aff'd on other grounds, 264 N.C.App. 85, 825 S.E.2d 10 (Apr 3 2020)

Because the defendant failed to present his constitutional double jeopardy argument before the trial court, it was not properly preserved for appellate review. The defendant was found guilty of, among other things, five counts of possession of a gun on educational property. On appeal the...

The court per curiam affirmed a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 833 (2018), in which the court declined the defendant’s request to grant his petition for writ of certiorari to review the trial court’s order requiring him to enroll in lifetime...

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 809 S.E.2d 340 (2018), the court per curiam vacated and remanded to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of State v. Wilson, ___ N.C. ___, 821 S.E.2d 811 (2018). In the decision below...

In this child sexual assault case, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR) seeking a new trial for ineffective assistance of counsel related to opinion testimony by the State’s expert. The defendant was convicted of sexual offenses...

(1) In this case where the defendant pleaded guilty to felony speeding to elude arrest pursuant to a plea arrangement, he had no statutory right to appeal. 

(2) However, the court considered the defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari which argued that he did not receive notice and an...

State v. Wilson, 371 N.C. 920 (Dec. 21, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 698 (2017), in this felon in possession of a firearm case, the court held that Michigan v. Summers justifies a seizure of the defendant where he posed a real threat to the safe and...

State v. Johnson, 371 N.C. 870 (Dec. 21, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 795 S.E.2d 625 (2017), in this first-degree murder case the court held that the defendant’s statements to officers were voluntary. The defendant voluntarily met with detectives at the police station in...

State v. Rankin, 371 N.C. 885 (Dec. 21, 2018)

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 809 S.E.2d 358 (2018), the court affirmed holding that a littering indictment was fatally defective. In so ruling the court held that subsection G.S. 14-399(a)(1) of the littering statute sets out an...

Addressing the merits of an IAC claim raised in a MAR, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that attorney Warmack provided ineffective assistance of counsel at an evidentiary remand hearing because of a dual representation conflict arising from having previously represented codefendant...

State v. Fowler, 371 N.C. 718 (Dec. 7, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 800 S.E.2d 724 (2017), the court, in a per curiam opinion, vacated and remanded to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of State v. Malachi, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (2018). In this...

State v. Melton, 371 N.C. 750 (Dec. 7, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 801 S.E.2d 392 (2017), the court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction for attempted murder. The evidence showed that the defendant solicited an...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 806 S.E.2d 682 (2017), the court modified and affirmed the decision below, holding that the defendant waived her Eighth Amendment sentencing argument by failing to raise it before the sentencing court and...

State v. Malachi, 371 N.C. 719 (Dec. 7, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 799 S.E.2d 645 (2017), in this felon in possession of a firearm case, the court reversed, holding that though the trial court erred in its jury instructions with respect to possession of a firearm, the...

The trial court did not err by failing to provide a jury instruction with respect to the audio recording. The court noted that in State v. Nance, 157 N.C. App. 434 (2003), it held that the trial court did not err by declining to give a special instruction requested by the defendant concerning...

Notwithstanding the fact that the court was unable to determine whether the trial court had jurisdiction when it entered judgment in this DWI case, the court held—over a dissent--that it would exercise its discretion to treat the defendant’s appeal as a petition for certiorari in order to reach...

Although the defendant failed to object on double jeopardy grounds to being sentenced for both armed robbery and possession of stolen goods taken during the robbery, the court addressed the merits of the defendant’s argument, noting that it may consider whether a sentence is unauthorized even in...

The court reversed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for reconsideration and motion for appropriate relief (MAR), holding that the requirement that counsel advise the defendant of the immigration consequences of a plea agreement established by Padilla does not...

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 463 (2017), the court held that although the trial court erred in giving an aiding and abetting instruction, the Court of Appeals incorrectly concluded that the error amounted to...

State v. Jones, 371 N.C. 548 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 701 (2017), the court affirmed, holding that the citation charging the offense in question was legally sufficient to properly invoke the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction. The defendant...

State v. Bass, 371 N.C. 535 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 477 (2017), the court affirmed, holding that the trial court committed prejudicial error by omitting stand-your-ground language from the self-defense jury instructions. The incident in question...

State v. Arrington, 371 N.C. 518 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 845 (2017), the court reversed, holding that as part of a plea agreement a defendant may stipulate on his sentencing worksheet that a second-degree murder conviction justified a B1 classification...

State v. Bass, 371 N.C. 535 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 477 (2017), the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court properly excluded specific instances of the victim’s violent conduct for the purpose of proving that he was the first aggressor...

State v. Frederick, 371 N.C. 547 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 855 (2018), the court per curiam affirmed. The Court of Appeals had held, over a dissent, that the search warrant of the defendant’s residence was supported by probable cause. The warrant was...

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...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his argument that the trial court erred by admitting 404(b) evidence. The defense objected to the witness’s testimony outside the presence of the jury and before the witness was sworn. After a voir dire, the trial court overruled the...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his assertion of error regarding testimony by the State’s expert in firearms and tool mark examination. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court committed plain error in allowing the expert’s testimony, asserting that unqualified...

In this drug case the defendant was not entitled to appellate review of whether the trial court erroneously admitted hearsay evidence. The defendant failed to demonstrate that any “judicial action” by the trial court amounted to error where he not only failed to object to admission of the...

The defendant failed to properly preserve the argument that there was a fatal variance between a drug trafficking indictment and the evidence at trial, where the issue was raised for the first time on appeal. The defendant never alleged a fatal variance when he moved to dismiss the charge....

The defendant’s failure to submit his motions to suppress to the trial court with supporting affidavits as required by G.S. 15A-977(a), constituted a waiver on appeal of the right to contest the admission of the evidence in question.

The defendant’s failure to object at trial to the admission of evidence encompassed by a separate motion to suppress, along with his failure to argue plain error constituted a failure to preserve review of that motion on appeal.

Because the defendant failed to raise at trial the constitutional argument that prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair trial, it was not preserved for appellate review.

(1) By failing to raise the argument at trial, the defendant failed to preserve for appellate review the argument that the trial court erred by failing to require the State to file a written pretrial motion to suppress or motion in limine to exclude the testimony of a defense witness.

(2)...

In this felon in possession of a firearm case, the defendant failed to submit an adequate record on appeal to support his challenge to the unanimity of the jury verdict. A juror entered the courtroom during the jury charge conference on a flight instruction. The defendant argued that because the...

The trial court did not err by allowing the Surety’s motion to set aside a bond forfeiture. The motion to set aside asserted as a reason that the defendant had been served with an order for arrest for the failure to appear on the criminal charge as evidenced by a copy of an official court record...

State v. Smith, 371 N.C. 469 (Sept. 21, 2018)

In a per curiam opinion in this felon in possession of a firearm case, the court reversed the Court of Appeals for reasons stated in the dissenting opinion below, thus holding that the shotgun could be seized as conrtaband in plain view.

In the opinion below, ___ N.C. App. ___, 804 S.E.2d...

State v. Stimpson, 371 N.C. 470 (Sept. 21, 2018)

In a per curiam opinion, the court affirmed the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 807 S.E.2d 603 (2017). The defendant was charged with five indictments alleging five separate offenses of conspiracy to commit robbery arising from five separate incidents. The...

State v. Krider, 370 N.C. 692 (Sept. 21, 2018)

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 828 (2018), the court affirmed per curiam, holding that the State failed to carry its burden of presenting sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s decision to revoke the defendant’s...

State v. Sayre, 371 N.C. 468 (Sept. 21, 2018)

On appeal from the unpublished decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 699 (2017), the court affirmed per curiam. In the opinion below, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s pro se motion to locate and preserve...

The trial court erred by partially granting the surety’s motion for relief from bond forfeiture. The defendant absconded during trial while subject to pretrial release conditions of electronic monitoring and a $50,000 secured bond. After a final judgment of forfeiture was entered, the surety...

In a case where the defendant pled guilty to DWI pursuant to a plea agreement and in which the court declined to exercise its discretion to grant the defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari, the court noted that the defendant had no right to appeal from an order denying her motion to dismiss...

On remand from the Supreme Court, __ N.C. __, 814 S.E.2d 39 (June 8, 2018), of this DWI case, the Court of Appeals declined to exercise its discretion to grant the defendant’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review her claim that the trial court erred by denying her motion to dismiss. The...

State v. Langley, 371 N.C. 389 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 166 (2017), the court reversed, holding that a habitual felon indictment was not fatally defective. The statute requires that a habitual felon indictment set forth “the date that prior felony...

State v. Hyman, 371 N.C. 363 (Aug. 17, 2018)

(1) On review of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 797 S.E.2d 308 (2017), in this murder case, the court affirmed the holding of the Court of Appeals that the defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claim was not procedurally barred under G.S. 15A-1419(a)(3...

State v. Saldierna, 371 N.C. 407 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 33 (2017), the court reversed, holding that the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress contained sufficient findings of fact to support its conclusion that the defendant...

State v. Rogers, 371 N.C. 397 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 796 S.E.2d 91 (2017), the court reversed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction of maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of keeping controlled substances in violation of G.S. 90-...

State v. Curtis, 371 N.C. 355 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision below, the court reversed, ruling on the “Turner issue” presented in this case and holding that the misdemeanor DWI prosecution was not barred by the two-year statute of limitations in G.S. 15-1. On 1 August 2012, the...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 793 S.E.2d 287 (2016), the court per curiam reversed for the reasons stated in State v. Curtis, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Aug. 17, 2018) (holding that issuance of a citation tolled the two-year...

The court dismissed the defendant’s assertion that the trial court erred in its jury instructions for the offense of assault by pointing a gun, finding that the defendant failed to properly preserve this issue for appellate review by lodging objection at trial and failed to specifically and...

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review his claim that the trial court erred by requiring him to enroll in satellite-based monitoring (SBM). The defendant asserted that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that imposing SBM is reasonable under the fourth amendment....

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief (MAR) which asserted ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Drug were discovered after a vehicle stop. The defendant lost his motion to suppress and after being convicted appealed...

Because SBM hearings are civil proceedings, the defendant’s oral notice of appeal from an order requiring him to enroll in lifetime SBM was insufficient to give the court jurisdiction to hear his appeal. The court declined to grant the defendant’s request for writ of certiorari to review the...

In this sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by failing to appoint substitute defense counsel. Absent a Sixth Amendment violation, the decision of whether appointed counsel should be replaced is a discretionary one for the trial court. Here, the defendant informed the trial court...

In this capital case the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred in the guilt phase by instructing the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of sexual offense if it found either vaginal or anal penetration where the State failed to present any evidence of anal...

In this capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that information he provided his lawyers regarding the location of the victim’s body was inadmissible by virtue of the attorney-client privilege. Here, the trial court correctly determined that the information was not protected by...

In this capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a law enforcement officer’s testimony that he received information about the location of the victim from the defendant’s attorneys was inadmissible hearsay. The trial court properly determined that these statements were...

On discretionary of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 801 S.E.2d 696 (2017), in this murder case the court reversed, holding that the Court of Appeals erred by concluding that certain evidence was admitted in violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights. The...

On appeal from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 805 S.E.2d 348 (2017), the court reversed, holding that an officer’s decision to briefly detain the defendant for questioning was supported by reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. While on patrol at...

In this capital murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a first-degree murder charge. The defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that he was the perpetrator. The court noted that the State’s evidence tended...

On appeal from a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 795 S.E.2d 374 (2016), the court reversed, holding that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment claims regarding the traffic stop are not reviewable on direct appeal, even for plain error, because the defendant waived them...

(1) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion under the Racial Justice Act to prohibit the State from seeking the death penalty without holding an evidentiary hearing. Assuming arguendo that any version of the RJA applies to the defendant, the...

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 794 S.E.2d 551 (2016) (per curiam), the court reversed, holding that the absence of a procedural rule limits neither the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction nor its discretionary authority to issue writs of...

(1) In this capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court deprived him of his state and federal constitutional right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury by prohibiting defense counsel from questioning prospective jurors concerning their ability to follow the...

(1) Addressing the merits of the defendant’s Strickland ineffective assistance of counsel claim in this direct appeal in a capital case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyers disclosed to law enforcement where to...