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

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E.g., 11/30/2021
E.g., 11/30/2021
State v. Walston, 369 N.C. 547 (May. 5, 2017)

Reversing the Court of Appeals in a case in which the amended version of Rule 702 applied, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding defense expert testimony regarding repressed memory and the suggestibility of memory. The case involved a number of...

State v. Towe, 366 N.C. 56 (June 14, 2012)

The court modified and affirmed State v. Towe, 210 N.C. App. 430 (Mar. 15, 2011). The court of appeals held that the trial court committed plain error by allowing the State’s medical expert to testify that the child victim was sexually abused when no physical findings supported this...

The defendant was convicted by a jury of one count of rape of a child, one count of indecent liberties with a child, and eight counts of sexual offense with a child, and he received four consecutive sentences. The defendant did not object to the testimony of the state’s expert witness at...

The defendant was found guilty of taking indecent liberties with a child after his thirteen-year-old niece disclosed to several people that the defendant was behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner toward her.

On appeal, the defendant contended that the trial court...

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...

In this sexual assault case although a nurse’s testimony was improperly admitted, the error did not rise to the level of plain error. The nurse interviewed and examined the victim. At trial the nurse testified that the victim’s exam “was consistent with someone reporting a sexual assault” solely...

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...

In this indecent liberties with a child case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a nurse’s opinion testimony improperly vouched for the victim’s credibility. In the relevant portion of her testimony, the nurse stated that erythema that she observed on the victim’s privates was...

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing Kelli Wood, an expert in clinical social work specializing in child sexual abuse cases, to testify that it is not uncommon for children to delay disclosure of sexual abuse and to testify to possible...

(1) In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by admitting an assessment in a report by the State’s medical expert, Dr. Thomas, of “Child sexual abuse.” Thomas testified to general characteristics of abused children. She did not offer an opinion that the victim had been...

In this statutory rape case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by allowing the State’s witness, Dr. Rothe, to improperly bolster the victim’s credibility. Rothe made no definitive diagnosis that the victim had experienced sexual abuse. Instead, Rothe detailed...

In this child sexual assault case, the State’s medical expert did not impermissibly testify that the victim had been abused. Case law holds that in the absence of physical evidence to support a diagnosis of sexual abuse, expert testimony that sexual abuse has in fact occurred is not admissible...

State v. Watts, 246 N.C. App. 737 (Apr. 5, 2016) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 370 N.C. 39 (Aug 18 2017)

The defendant did not establish plain error with respect to his claim that the State’s expert vouched for the credibility of the child sexual assault victim. The expert testified regarding the victim’s bruises and opined that they were the result of blunt force trauma; when asked whether the...

(1) In this child sexual assault case the trial court did not err by admitting testimony from the victim’s therapist. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the therapist’s testimony constituted impermissible vouching for the victim’s credibility. The therapist specialized in working...

In this child sexual assault case, no error occurred when the State’s expert medical witness testified that the victim’s delay in reporting anal penetration was a characteristic consistent with the general behavior of children who have been sexually abused in that manner. The court rejected the...

In this child sexual abuse case, no error occurred when the medical doctor who examined the victim explained the victim’s normal examination, stating that 95% of children examined for sexual abuse have normal exams and that “it’s more of a surprise when we do find something.” The doctor further...

State v. Davis, 239 N.C. App. 522 (Mar. 3, 2015) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 368 N.C. 794 (Apr 15 2016)

In this child sexual abuse case, the State’s treating medical experts did not vouch for the victim’s credibility. The court noted that defendant’s argument appears to be based primarily on the fact that the experts testified about the problems reported by the victim without qualifying each...

(1) In this child sexual abuse case, testimony from a psychologist, Ms. Bellis, who treated the victim did not constitute expert testimony that impermissibly vouched for the victim’s credibility. Bellis testified, in part, that the victim “came in because she had been molested by her older...

In this sexual assault case, no plain error occurred when a pediatric nurse practitioner testified to the opinion that her medical findings were consistent with the victim’s allegation of sexual abuse. The nurse performed a physical examination of the victim. She testified that in girls who are...

No error occurred when the State’s experts in a sexual assault case testified that the victim’s physical injuries were consistent with the sexual assault she described.

State v. King, 235 N.C. App. 187 (July 15, 2014)

In this child sex abuse case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State’s expert in pediatric medicine and the evaluation and treatment of sexual abuse to testify about common characteristics she observed in sexually abused children and a possible basis for those characteristics. The...

State v. May, 230 N.C. App. 366 (Nov. 5, 2013) rev’d on other grounds, 368 N.C. 112 (Jun 11 2015)

In a child sexual abuse case, the trial court did not err by admitting testimony by the State’s medical experts. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that an expert pediatrician improperly testified that the victim had been sexually abused, concluding that the expert gave no such...

In a child homicide case, the trial court did not commit plain error by allowing the State’s medical experts to testify that their review of the medical records and other available information indicated that the victim’s injuries were consistent with previously observed cases involving...

In this child sex case, the trial court committed reversible error by allowing the State’s medical expert to testify to the opinion that the victim’s disclosure was consistent with sexual abuse where there was no physical evidence consistent with abuse. In order for an expert medical witness to...

In a child sex case decided under pre-amended R. 702, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting expert opinion that the victim suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when a licensed clinical social worker was tendered as an expert in social work and routinely made mental...

In a child sex case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State’s properly qualified medical expert to testify that the victim’s profile was consistent with that of a sexually abused child. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State failed to lay a proper foundation for...

(1) In a child sex case, the trial court did not err by qualifying as an expert a family therapist who provided counseling to both victims. The court first concluded that the witness possessed the necessary qualifications. Among other things, she had a master’s degree in Christian counseling and...

Improper testimony by an expert pediatrician in a child sexual abuse case required a new trial. After the alleged abuse, the child was seen by Dr. Gutman, a pediatrician, who reviewed her history and performed a physical exam. Gutman observed a deep notch in the child’s hymen, which was highly...

Although the trial court erred by allowing the State’s expert to testify that the child victim had been sexually abused, the error did not rise to the level of plain error. Responding to a question about the child’s treatment, the expert, a licensed clinical social worker, said: "For a child,...

State v. Carter, 216 N.C. App. 453 (Nov. 1, 2011) rev’d on other grounds, 366 N.C. 496 (Apr 12 2013)

In a child sexual offense case, the trial court did not err by excluding defense evidence consisting of testimony by a social worker that during therapy sessions the victim was “overly dramatic,” “manipulative,” and exhibited “attention seeking behavior.” The testimony did not relate to an...

In a child sexual abuse case, no plain error occurred when the trial court allowed the State’s expert to testify that the victim exhibited some classic signs of a sexually abused child. The expert did not testify that the victim was in fact sexually abused.

The trial court did not err by allowing the State’s expert in family medicine to testify that if there had been a tear in the victim’s hymen, it probably would have healed by the time the expert saw the victim. The testimony explained that the lack of physical findings indicative of sexual abuse...

The trial court erred when it allowed the State’s expert in clinical social work to testify that she had diagnosed the victim with sexual abuse when there was no physical evidence consistent with abuse. However, the error did not constitute plain error given other evidence in the case.

In a child sexual abuse case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by overruling a defense objection to a response by the State’s expert. On direct examination, the expert testified that the child’s physical examination revealed no signs of trauma to the hymen. On cross-examination, she...

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to strike a response by the State’s expert witness in a child sexual abuse case. During cross-examination, defense counsel asked whether the victim told the expert that she had been penetrated. The expert responded: “She described the...

In a case in which the defendant was found guilty of felonious child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and first-degree murder, the trial court did not err by admitting testimony of the State’s expert in the field of developmental and forensic pediatrics. Based on a review of photographs,...

State v. Horton, 200 N.C. App. 74 (Sept. 15, 2009)

Prejudicial error occurred warranting a new trial when the trial court overruled an objection to testimony of a witness who was qualified as an expert in the treatment of sexually abused children. After recounting a detailed description of an alleged sexual assault provided to her by the victim...

The state’s expert pediatrician was improperly allowed to testify that his findings were consistent with a history of anal penetration received from the child victim where no physical evidence supported the diagnosis. The expert was properly allowed to testify that victim’s history of vaginal...

State v. Ray, 197 N.C. App. 662 (July 7, 2009) rev’d on other grounds, 364 N.C. 272 (Aug 27 2010)

The trial court did not err in admitting the State’s expert witness’s testimony that the results of his examination of the victim were consistent with a child who had been sexually abused; the expert did not testify that abuse had in fact occurred and did not comment on the victim’s credibility...

State v. Webb, 197 N.C. App. 619 (June 16, 2009)

In child sexual abuse case, it was error to allow the state’s expert, a child psychologist, to testify that he believed that the victim had been exposed to sexual abuse. The expert’s statement pertained to the victim’s credibility; it apparently was unsupported by clinical evidence.

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