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.

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E.g., 11/30/2021
E.g., 11/30/2021

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,...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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. Waring, 364 N.C. 443 (Nov. 5, 2010)

The trial court did not err in denying a capital defendant’s Batson challenge when the defendant failed to established a prima facie case that the prosecutor’s use of a peremptory challenge against Juror Rogers, an African-American female, was motivated by race. Because Ms. Rogers was...

State v. Maness, 363 N.C. 261 (June 18, 2009)

Trial court did not err in sustaining the prosecutor’s objection to an improper stake-out question by the defense. Defense counsel wanted to ask the juror in this capital case whether the juror could, if convinced that life imprisonment was the appropriate penalty, return such a verdict even if...

In this Guilford County case, the trial judge improperly expressed personal opinion and injected a discussion of race in remarks to the venire during jury selection. The defendant was charged with fleeing to elude and obtaining the status of habitual felon, along with other traffic offenses....

(1) The defendant, on trial for multiple drug charges, challenged the prosecutor’s peremptory strike of the only Black juror in the venire under Batson v. Kentucky. The trial court overruled the defendant’s objection, finding that although the “100 percent rejection...

In a first-degree felony murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to strike the initial jury panel and the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for a proper Batson hearing consistent with State v. Hobbs, 374 N.C. 345 (...

This case involves a first-degree murder conviction previously upheld by the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 838 S.E.2d 660 (2020), back before the court for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in State v. Hobbs...

In this first-degree murder case, defense counsel objected to the State’s use of peremptory challenges to strike three African American prospective jurors. The trial court denied defense counsel’s Batson challenge, finding that the defendant had not established a prima facie ...

In this non-capital first-degree murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by preventing the defendant from rehabilitating a juror. During jury selection, the State questioned prospective juror Terrance Copling, who said he was familiar with the defendant’s family, did not know...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred during jury selection by unduly restricting the defendant’s inquiry into whether prospective jurors could fairly evaluate credibility if faced with evidence that a person had lied in the past. The trial court properly...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred during jury selection by unduly restricting the defendant’s inquiry into whether prospective jurors could fairly evaluate credibility if faced with evidence that a person had lied in the past. The trial court properly...

In this child sexual assault case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a statement made by a prospective juror violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury and constituted plain error. Specifically, the defendant argued that the prospective juror’s statement that her uncle...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s Batson challenges in this capital case. The two victims and the eyewitness were Palestinian and the defendant was black. The State exercised a peremptory strike against Juror 2, a black male. When questioned about the death penalty...

State v. Hurd, 246 N.C. App. 281 (Mar. 15, 2016)

In this capital murder case involving an African American defendant and victims, the trial court did not err by sustaining the State’s reverse Batson challenge. The defendant exercised 11 peremptory challenges, 10 against white and Hispanic jurors. The only black juror that the...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to strike the jury venire. The defendant alleged that his venire was racially disproportionate to the demographics of Mecklenburg County, where he was tried, and therefore deprived him of his constitutional right to a jury of his...

Although the trial court erred by failing to follow the statutory procedure for jury selection in G.S. 15A-1214 (specifically, that the prosecutor must pass 12 jurors to the defense), the defendant failed to show prejudice. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the error was...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s challenges for cause of two prospective jurors. The defendant asserted that the first juror stated that he would form opinions during trial. Because the juror stated upon further questioning that he would follow the judge’s...

By failing to object, the defendant waived his right to appeal the issue of whether the trial court erred by informing prospective jurors, pursuant to G.S. 15A-1213, that the defendant had given notice of self-defense. During jury selection, the trial court stated: “Defendant, ladies and...

The trial court did not err by dismissing the defendant’s Batson objection. The prosecutor’s explanation for its peremptory challenge to the black juror was that she was unemployed and that the prosecutor recognized the juror’s name, possibly from a prior domestic violence case. The...

Following State v. Holden, 346 N.C. 404 (1997), the court held that the trial court erred by refusing to allow the defendant to use a remaining peremptory challenge when a juror revealed mid-trial that she knew one of the State’s witnesses from high school. After re-opening voir dire on...

Following State v. Holden, 346 N.C. 404 (1997), the court held that the trial court erred by refusing to allow the defendant to use a remaining peremptory challenge when a juror revealed mid-trial that she knew one of the State’s witnesses from high school. After re-opening voir dire on...

State v. Carr, 229 N.C. App. 579 (Sept. 17, 2013)

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s challenge for cause. Although the juror initially voiced sentiments that would normally make her vulnerable to a challenge for cause, she later confirmed that she would put aside prior knowledge and impressions, consider the...

The trial court did not err by failing to conduct a Batson hearing where the defendant failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. At the time the defendant objected, the State's acceptance rate, excluding jurors dismissed for cause, was 25% for African Americans, and 80%...

In an appeal from a conviction obtained in the Eve Carson murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by overruling the defendant’s objections to the State’s questions during jury selection. The defendant objected to questions about whether jurors could consider testimony by...

In an appeal from a conviction obtained in the Eve Carson murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying three of the defendant’s challenges for cause during jury selection. The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review challenges as to two of the jurors. As to the...

In a case in which the defendant was charged with various crimes related to his shooting of his pregnant wife, the trial court did not err by limiting the defendant’s voir dire of prospective jurors. The charges against the defendant included first-degree murder of his child, who was born alive...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s request to be provided, prior to voir dire, with the trial court’s intended jury instructions regarding the killing of an unborn fetus. The defendant wanted the instruction to “clarify the law” before questioning of the...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s motion to strike a juror for cause or his request for an additional peremptory challenge. The defendant argued that a juror should have been excused for cause based on his comments during voir dire that he knew “things that...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State used six of its peremptory challenges to excuse prospective African-American jurors in violation of Batson. At a Batson hearing, the State offered race-neutral explanations as to why it excused each juror, including...

The trial court committed reversible error by refusing to allow the defendant, after the jury was impanelled, to exercise a remaining peremptory challenge to excuse a juror who had lunch with a friend who was a lawyer in the district attorney's office. Citing State v. Holden, 346 N.C....

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to discharge the jury venire on grounds that the defendants’ race (African-American) was disproportionately underrepresented. To establish a prima facie violation for disproportionate representation in a venire, a defendant must show...

The trial court did not err by rejecting the defendant’s Batson challenge as to two black jurors. The prosecutor's explanation with respect to both jurors included the fact that both had a close family member who was incarcerated and had not been "treated fairly." The court rejected the...

The trial court did not improperly limit the defendant’s voir dire questioning with respect to assessing the credibility of witnesses and the jurors’ ability to follow the law on reasonable doubt. Because the trial judge properly sustained the State’s objections to the defendant’s questions, no...

The trial court did not err by overruling the defendant’s Batson objection to the State’s peremptory challenge of an African-American juror. The defendant, who is African-American, was tried for murder. In response to the defendant’s Batson objection, the prosecutor explained...

In an impaired driving case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State’s challenge for cause of a juror while denying a defense challenge for cause of another juror. The juror challenged by the State had a pending impaired driving case in the county and admitted to...

The trial court erred by denying the defendant the opportunity to use his one remaining peremptory challenge after voir dire was reopened. After the jury was impaneled, the judge learned that a seated juror had attempted to contact an employee in the district attorney’s office before impanelment...

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