Tuesday, August 31, 2010

North Carolina Supreme Court Decisions, August 27, 2010

The Supreme Court decided the controversial case of Jones v. Keller, which was blogged about here. The court also published the following criminal appeal decisions:

State v. Chandler. Ruling that there has been no "significant change" in law regarding admissibility of testimony in child sexual abuse cases for post-conviction purposes.

One was to obtain post-conviction relief (i.e. after sentencing and direct appeal are over) is under 15A-1415(b)(7) if “[t]here has been asignificant change in law, either substantive or procedural, applied in the proceedings leading to the defendant’s conviction or sentence, and retroactive application of the changed legal standard is required.”

Here, defendant was arguing that the expert witness who testified against him in his sex-offense case would not be admitted under new law; as such, he is entitled to a new trial. The Superior Court agreed.

In a series of cases, the S.C. had ruled in favor of defendants and decided that certain expert testimony on whether or not sex abuse had occurred was inadmissible. The court found that these cases (State v. Bates and State v. Stancil) were based in existing law and were not changes; rather, they followed the established precedents. As such, no change and no relief.

State v. Davis. Held that court erred in sentenced defendant for felony death by vehicle and felony serious injury by vehicle when he had also been convicted for 2nd degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Court held that the General Assembly did not intend that individuals be convicted for both. Both assault and death by vehicle included a prefatory clause defining punishment for these offenses "unless the conduct is covered by some other provision of law providing greater punishment." Because here the defendant was convicted of 2d murder and AWDWISI, both having greater punishments, the court could not sentence the defendant under both statutes.

State v. Ray. Defendant did not preserve his 404(b) claim. State, in a sex offense case, offered evidence of prior incidents of violence toward women when defendant was drunk. Court found that issue was not preserved and was harmless error.

Justice Hudson, with Justices Parker and Timmons-Goodson, dissented.

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