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., 03/31/2023
E.g., 03/31/2023

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

State v. Davis, 368 N.C. 794 (Apr. 15, 2016)

Modifying and affirming the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals below, 239 N.C. App. 522 (2015), in this child sexual assault case, the court held that expert testimony about general characteristics of child sexual assault victims and the possible reasons for delayed reporting of such...

State v. Lane, 365 N.C. 7 (Mar. 11, 2011)

In a capital murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding expert testimony by a neuropharmacologist and research scientist who studies the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, proffered by the defense as relevant to the jury’s determination of the reliability of...

State v. Williams, 362 N.C. 628 (Dec. 12, 2008)

The trial judge properly dismissed a charge of felony assault on a government officer under G.S. 15A-954(a)(4) where the defendant established that the state flagrantly violated his constitutional rights and irreparably prejudiced preparation of the defense. The state willfully destroyed...

In this Wake County case, defendant appealed her convictions of driving while impaired and felony death by vehicle, arguing the trial court erred by (1) denying her requests for voluntary discovery of laboratory audits and records, and (2) admitting her blood test results into evidence. The...

In this Caldwell County case, the defendant was charged with first-degree sex offense with a child. The victim was the minor child of a family friend. While the child was watching television at the defendant’s house, the defendant brought the child to his computer, which had pornography playing...

The defendant’s first trial on charges of DWI, driving while license revoked, and driving without a valid registration or properly displayed license plate ended in a hung jury and mistrial. A retrial was scheduled for approximately two months later. One week before the retrial, defense...

In this Union County case, the defendant appealed convictions for methamphetamine trafficking and maintaining a vehicle for keeping or selling drugs (among others). An officer in Wadesboro observed the defendant’s car at a “known drug house” and alerted a county deputy about the suspect vehicle...

The defendant was found guilty by a Cleveland County jury of impaired driving and resisting a public officer and was found responsible for possession of open container. He appealed, challenging the denial of his motion to dismiss, the denial of his mid-trial motion to suppress, an evidentiary...

The defendant was cited for misdemeanor driving while impaired on November 27, 2016. His attorney requested discovery in July 2017, specifically asking for dash cam and body camera footage. The defendant was subsequently indicted for habitual impaired driving and other traffic offenses based on...

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss all charges due to the State’s failure to preserve and disclose a blank audio recording of a conversation between an accomplice and the defendant. After the accomplice Stanley was discovered...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion for sanctions for failure to preserve and disclose a blank recording of an arranged call between an informant and the defendant. Under the discovery statutes, officer Moody should have documented his...

In this first-degree murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to elicit testimony from a supplemental rebuttal expert, Dr. Wolfe, first disclosed by the State during trial. The defendant asserted a violation of G.S. 15A-903(a)(2)’s pretrial expert witness...

The trial court’s ex parte orders compelling the production of the defendant’s personnel files and educational records were void ab initio. While employed as a police officer the defendant was involved in a vehicle pursuit that resulted in the death of the pursued driver. Prior to charging the...

State v. Bacon, ___ N.C. App. ___, 803 S.E.2d 402 (July 18, 2017) temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 802 S.E.2d 460 (Aug 4 2017)

In this felony larceny case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the defendant’s witness as a sanction for the defendant’s violation of discovery rules, specifically, the defendant’s failure to timely file notice that he intended to call the witness as an alibi witness...

(1) In this murder case, the trial court did not err by excluding the testimony of a defense psychiatrist on the basis that the witness’s proffered testimony constituted expert opinion testimony that had not been disclosed pursuant to a reciprocal discovery order. The witness, Dr. Badri Hamra,...

In this assault on a government officer case, no Brady violation occurred when recordings from police body cameras were reviewed by the defendant’s original trial counsel and then destroyed pursuant to the police department’s evidence retention schedule. The defendant’s original trial...

In this child sexual assault case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by permitting certain testimony by the State’s experts because of a discovery violation. The experts included Blair Cobb, a licensed clinical social worker and pediatric therapist who...

Invoking Rule 2 of the NC Rules of Appellate Procedure, the court considered emails outside of the record and granted the defendants’ MAR, finding both a Brady violation and a Napue (failure to correct false testimony) violation. Specifically, the State failed to provide...

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court did not err in quashing a subpoena the defendant issued to a North Carolina Department of Revenue employee to testify at trial and produce “[a]ll documents related to the Unauthorized Substance Tax action against [defendant].” In part because the...

In this methamphetamine case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for discovery sanctions after the State destroyed evidence seized from the defendant’s home, without an order authorizing destruction, and despite a court order that the evidence be...

The trial court erred by ordering, under threat of contempt, that defense counsel’s legal assistant appear as a witness for the State. The State served the assistant with a subpoena directing her to appear to testify on the weeks of Friday, November 8, 2013, Monday, December 2, 2013, and Monday...

In a delivery of cocaine case the trial court abused its discretion by denying the defendant’s request for an entrapment instruction as a sanction under G.S. 15A-910(a) for failure to provide "specific information as to the nature and extent of the defense" as required by G.S. 15A-905(c)(1)(b)....

Although the State had a right to appeal the trial court’s order dismissing charges because of a discovery violation, it had no right to appeal the trial court’s order precluding testimony from two witnesses as a sanction for a discovery violation. 

The trial court erred by dismissing charges after finding that the State violated the discovery statutes by failing to obtain and preserve a pawn shop surveillance video of the alleged transaction at issue. On 7 August 2012, defense counsel notified that State that there was reason to believe...

(1) In this murder case, the trial court abused its discretion by excluding, as a discovery sanction, testimony by defense expert Masucci. The defendant offered Masucci after the trial court precluded the original defense expert, Ward, from testifying that incriminating computer files had been...

In this misdemeanor DWI case the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motions to examine the Intoximeter source code. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the source code was Brady evidence, reasoning that he failed to show that it was favorable and material....

In this misdemeanor DWI case the court held that the defendant had no statutory right to pretrial discovery and rejected the defendant’s argument that G.S. 15A-901 violated due process. The court noted, however, that the defendant did have discovery rights under Brady.

The trial court did not err by refusing to provide defense counsel with an internal investigation report prepared by the police department’s Office of Professional Standards and Inspections regarding a lead detective in the investigation. During the trial prosecutors learned of an ongoing...

In a murder case, the trial court did not violate the defendant’s constitutional right to reasonable notice of evidence or his statutory right to discovery by allowing the State to present an expert toxicologist’s testimony. As part of his investigation, Dr. Jordan, a local medical examiner,...

The trial court did not err by failing to grant the defendant a new trial on his MAR where the State failed to disclose in discovery more than 1,800 pages of material to which the defendant was entitled. The court was unable to conclude that but for the nondisclosure a different result would...

G.S. 15A-903 requires production of already existing documents; it imposes no duty on the State to create or continue to develop additional documentation regarding an investigation. To the extent the trial court concluded that the State violated statutory discovery provisions because it failed...

The trial court erred by ordering suppression as a sanction for the State’s failure to document and disclose various communications between agencies and individuals involved in the investigation. The court began by noting that G.S. 15A-903 requires production of already existing documents; it...

The trial court erred by dismissing with prejudice murder charges as a sanction for discovery violations where the record did not reveal a basis for the determination that dismissal was an appropriate sanction. Additionally, because the defendant actually received before trial the evidence the...

(1) The trial court erred by entering a pretrial order dismissing, under G.S. 15A-954(a)(4), murder, child abuse, and sexual assault charges against the defendant. The statute allows a trial court to dismiss charges if it finds that the defendant's constitutional rights have been flagrantly...

In a case in which the State conceded that a translator testified as an expert, the trial court erred by failing to recognize the State’s violation of the discovery rules in G.S. 15A-903(a)(2). However, on the facts presented, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to exclude...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a mistrial on grounds that the State failed to provide the defendant with additional discovery after a meeting with co-defendant William Brown gleaned new information. After recognizing potential discovery...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter based on imperfect self-defense where, among other things, the State filed a motion requesting that the defendant provide voluntary discovery outlining the defenses he intended to...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion for a mistrial on grounds that the State failed to provide the defendant with additional discovery after a meeting with co-defendant William Brown gleaned new information. After recognizing potential discovery...

In a child sex case, the trial court erred by failing to require disclosure of material exculpatory information contained in privileged documents that were reviewed in camera by the trial court and pertained to the victim’s allegations. The documents contained “sufficient exculpatory material to...

The defendant was not entitled to a new trial on grounds that the SBI Crime Lab refused to test four hair and fiber lifts taken from an item of clothing. The defendant did not argue that the prosecutor failed to make the lifts available to him for testing. In fact, one of the defendant’s...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to continue because of the State’s alleged discovery violation. Although the State provided the defendant with a copy the robbery victim’s pre-trial written statement and a composite sketch of the perpetrator based on...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges and her motion in limine, both of which asserted that the State violated the discovery rules by failing to provide her with the victim’s pretrial statement to the prosecutor. The victim made a statement to the...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting a recess instead of dismissing the charges or barring admission of the defendant’s statement to the police, when that statement was not provided to the defense until the second day of trial in violation of the criminal discovery rules....

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to bar the State from introducing forensic evidence related to his vehicle where the police impounded his vehicle during the investigation, but subsequently lost it. The State’s evidence suggested that soil from the...

State v. Flint, 199 N.C. App. 709 (Sept. 15, 2009)

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion to continue alleging that the defendant did not receive discovery at a reasonable time prior to trial where the defendant never made a motion for discovery and there was no written discovery agreement and thus the...

A witness testified at trial that the defendant made the following statement about the victim during the robbery: “I hope this spic is dead.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence should have been excluded because of a discovery violation. The State provided information...

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