Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NC Court of Appeals Decisions (12.2.08)

NC Court of Appeals Criminal Decisions


State v. Branch, (08-20). Defendant fled in his car from an illegal traffic stop. The officer had his hand inside the car and ran with the car for 758 feet. He was not injured, but his boots and pants were damaged. The Court found that, while the Defendant had the right to use reasonable force to prevent the unlawful detention, the Defendant used unreasonable force by driving away with the officer's hand inside. (Query: Isn't reasonable force that necessary to prevent the unlawful arrest and no more. When a cop stops a car illegally, isn't the only force available to prevent the unlawful arrest to drive away? Apparently not.)

State v. Conway, (08-106). Reversing conviction for trafficking more than 400 grams of Methamphetamine, where state's evidence failed to show there was more than a detectable amount of Methamphetamine in a 530 gram liquid mixture, as the exact amount was never determined and the liquid was in a toxic state--it was incompletely manufactured. The statutes for cocaine, heroin, LSD, and MDMA include a clause of 400 grams of "any mixture containing such substance" whereas the Methamphetamine statute does not.

The Court upheld conviction for manufacturing Methamphetamine.

State v. Dix, (07-1440). Finding that this:

McMasters: Okay. And will you answer some questions for me?
Defendant: I'm probably gonna have to have a lawyer.
McMasters: Okay but, ya know, I mean, okay. But, ya know, I mean, it's up to you if you wanna answer questions or not. I mean, you can answer till you don't feel comfortable, whatever and then not answer. Ya know, that's totally up to you. I know earlier you said you was wanting to talk to me because . . . .
Defendant: Yeah.
McMasters: . . . of course there's two sides . . .
Defendant: Yeah.
McMasters: . . . to every story.
Defendant: But, no . . .
McMasters: Uhm . . .
Defendant: I . . .
McMasters: You wanna talk, ok.
Defendant: Yeah.

Was an ambiguous assertion of Miranda rights, so no Miranda violation by continued questioning. Reversed lower court suppression of Defendant's statements.

No reversal and no interesting issues:

State v. Hall, (07-1412). MAR in a murder conviction, based on newly discovered evidence of letters showing a snitch's bias that were unopened, in the possession of the DA and could have been used to impeach that witness. Denied, finding such evidence was cumulative and only would be used to impeach. Other issues denied as well.

State v. Rogers, (08-188). No error where court refused to appoint counsel, after Defendant had fired prior counsels and been allowed to substitute, then signed a waiver of counsel. Denial of his later requests for counsel, after he said he couldn't competently try his own case, were not error.

State v Smith, (07-812). Defendant contends that, under acting in concert theory, because his co-conspirator dropped the victim of kidnapping off in a safe place, he cannot be convicted of 1st degree kidnapping. The court found that acting-in-concert could not be used in this way. Acting in concert only works to the detriment of the Defendant; cannot get credit for dropping off in a safe place unless personally involved in that action. Also ruled no error on an Allen charge to the jury.

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