Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

About

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., 06/26/2022
E.g., 06/26/2022

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...

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-...

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...

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. 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On appeal from the unpublished decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App.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...

State v. Lane, 370 N.C. 508 (Mar. 2, 2018)

In this capital case, the court held that the defendant failed to prove materiality in connection with his request for post-conviction DNA testing of hair samples. The hair samples were found in a trash bag in which the victim’s body had been placed. Before the trial court the defendant argued...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing without appointing counsel. The statute requires appointment of counsel only on a showing that the DNA testing may be material to the defendant’s claim of wrongful conviction. The burden of...

(1) The trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing. The defendant, who pleaded guilty to multiple sexual assaults, filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing of evidence he alleged was collected by law enforcement, including vials of blood and saliva, a bag...

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing and discovery pursuant to G.S. 15A-269. The defendant was tried for burglary, kidnapping, assault by strangulation, rape, sex offense, and attaining habitual felon status. Evidence at trial included, among...

(1) The court held that it had both jurisdiction and authority to decide whether Anders-type review should be prohibited, allowed, or required in appeals from G.S. 15A-270.1. Exercising this discretionary authority, the court held that Anders procedures apply to appeals...

The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter an order denying the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to G.S. 15A-269 while the defendant’s appeal from the original judgment of conviction was pending. The defendant was convicted of an attempted sexual...

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by refusing to appoint counsel to litigate the defendant’s pro se motion for post-conviction DNA testing. Under G.S. 15A-269(c), to be entitled to counsel, the defendant must establish that the DNA testing may be material to his...

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by refusing to appoint counsel to litigate the defendant’s pro se motion for post-conviction DNA testing. Under G.S. 15A-269(c), to be entitled to counsel, the defendant must establish that the DNA testing may be material to his...

(1) The court dismissed the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by failing to order an inventory of biological evidence under G.S. 15A-269(f). Under the statute, a request for post-conviction DNA testing triggers an obligation for the custodial agency to inventory relevant biological...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing under G.S. 15A-269. Defendant’s motion contained only the following conclusory statement regarding materiality: “The ability to conduct the requested DNA testing is material to defendant[’]s defense...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing under G.S. 15A-269. Defendant’s motion contained only the following conclusory statement regarding materiality: “The ability to conduct the requested DNA testing is material to defendant[’]s defense...

The court held that trial court was not required to hold an evidentiary hearing on the defendant’s motion, noting:

[A] trial court is not required to conduct an evidentiary hearing where it can determine from the trial record and the information in the motion that the defendant has failed...

The post-conviction DNA testing statute does not require the trial court to make findings of fact when denying a motion. “A trial court’s order is sufficient so long as it states that the court reviewed the defendant’s motion, cites the statutory requirements for granting the motion, and...

(1) The trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing. The defendant was convicted of murdering his wife; her body was discovered in a utility shop behind their home. He sought DNA testing of five cigarettes and a beer can that were found in the utility shop...

The trial court properly denied the defendant’s pro se motion for post-conviction DNA testing where the defendant failed to adequately establish that newer and more accurate tests would identify the perpetrator or contradict prior test results. It reasoned:

...

The trial court did not err by failing to make specific findings of fact when denying the defendant’s request for post-conviction DNA testing under G.S. 15A-269. The statute contains no requirement that the trial court make specific findings of fact.

The court adopted the following standard of review of a denial for post-conviction DNA testing: Findings of fact are binding if supported by competent evidence and may not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion; conclusions of law are reviewed de novo. 

The trial court did not err by failing to appoint counsel to represent the defendant on a motion for post-conviction DNA testing. The trial court is required to appoint counsel for a motion under G.S. 15A-269 only if the defendant makes a showing of indigence and that the DNA testing is material...

The rules of evidence apply to proceedings related to post-conviction motions for DNA testing under G.S. 15A-269. 

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing where the defendant did not meet his burden of showing materiality under G.S. 15A-269(a)(1). The defendant made only a conclusory statement that "[t]he ability to conduct the requested DNA testing is...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion for post-conviction independent DNA testing. The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder (based on premeditation and deliberation and felony-murder predicated upon discharge of a weapon into occupied property), discharge of a...

A defendant does not have a right to appeal a trial judge’s order denying relief following a hearing to evaluate test results.

Show Table of Contents