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., 06/28/2024
E.g., 06/28/2024
State v. Godwin, 369 N.C. 604 (June 9, 2017)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the court held that Evidence Rule 702(a1) does not require the trial court to explicitly recognize a law enforcement officer as an expert witness pursuant to Rule 702(a) before he can testify to the results of a HGN test. Rather, the court noted, prior...

In this Robeson County case, defendant appealed his conviction for driving while impaired, arguing the trial court erred by admitting a toxicology report without authentication and allowing the arresting officer to testify to defendant’s specific blood alcohol concentration. The Court of Appeals...

An anonymous person contacted law enforcement to report that a small green vehicle with license plate RCW-042 was in a specific area, had run several vehicles off the road, had struck a vehicle, and was attempting to leave the scene. Deputies went to the area and immediately stopped a vehicle...

In this DWI case the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting an officer’s expert testimony that the defendant was under the influence of a central nervous system depressant. On appeal the defendant argued that the State failed to lay a sufficient foundation under Rule 702 to...

The trial court did not err by admitting an officer’s testimony about the results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. At trial, the North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper who responded to a call regarding a vehicle accident was tendered as an expert in HGN testing. The defendant objected...

Following its decision in State v. Babich, ___ N.C. App. ___, 797 S.E.2d 359 (2017), in this DWI case the court held that the State’s expert testimony regarding retrograde extrapolation was inadmissible under Daubert and Rule 702. The expert used the defendant’s .06 BAC 1 hour and 35...

The trial court did not err by allowing a state trooper to testify about the results of a chemical analysis of the defendant’s breath. On appeal, the defendant argued that the State failed to provide an adequate foundation for this testimony. Specifically, the court found that the requirements...

The trial court did not commit plain error by allowing a trooper to testify at trial about the HGN test he administered on the defendant during the stop where the State never formally tendered the trooper as an expert under Rule 702. The court noted that during the pendency of the appeal the...

In this DWI case to which the amended version of Evidence Rule 702 applied, the court held that a trial court does not err when it admits expert testimony regarding the results of a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test without first determining that HGN testing is a product of reliable...

In this DWI case, the trial court erred by admitting retrograde extrapolation testimony by the State’s expert witness. That expert used the defendant’s 0.07 blood alcohol concentration 1 hour and 45 minutes after the traffic stop to extrapolate that the defendant had a blood alcohol...

In this DWI case, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to exclude an officer’s Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”) testimony and allowing the officer to testify about the results of the HGN test without qualifying him as an expert under Rule 702. Citing State v. Godwin...

Following its opinion in Godwin, above, the court held, in this DWI case, that the trial court erred by admitting lay opinion testimony on the results of an HGN test and that a new trial was required.

(1) In this DWI case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State’s witness, a field technician in the Forensic Test of Alcohol Branch of the NC DHHS, who demonstrated specialized knowledge, experience, and training in blood alcohol physiology, pharmacology, and related...

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by qualifying the State’s witness as an expert in the fields of forensic blood alcohol physiology and pharmacology, breath and blood alcohol testing, and the effects of drugs on human performance and behavior. The witness was the head of the...

The trial judge did not commit plain error by allowing a witness accepted as an expert forensic toxicologist to testify about the effects of cocaine on the body. The defendant had argued that this testimony was outside of the witness’s area of expertise. The court concluded that “[a]s a trained...

(1) In an impaired driving case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State’s witness to testify as an expert in pharmacology and physiology. Based on his knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education, the witness was better informed than the jury about the...

State v. Davis, 208 N.C. App. 26 (Nov. 16, 2010)

The trial court committed reversible error by allowing the State’s expert to use “odor analysis” as a baseline for his opinion as to the defendant’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) at the time of the accident, formed using retrograde extrapolation. When the defendant reported to the police department...

In a DWI/homicide case, the trial court erred by allowing a state’s witness to testify about ingredients and effect of Narcan. Although the state proffered the testimony as lay opinion, it was actually expert testimony. When the state called the witness, it elicited extensive testimony regarding...

Rule 702(a1) obviates the state’s need to prove that the horizontal gaze nystagmus testing method is sufficiently reliable.

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