Expert Testimony about Eyewitness Identification

This post addresses three recurrent issues concerning eyewitness identification:

  1. When, if at all, is expert testimony about eyewitness identification admissible?
  2. When, if at all, is an indigent defendant entitled to funds with which to hire an expert on eyewitness identification?
  3. May jury instructions, rather than expert testimony, be used to inform the jury about factors relevant to the accuracy of an eyewitness identification?

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News Roundup

As the Charlotte Observer reports, Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday that the officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott earlier this year lawfully used deadly force and will not face criminal charges.  Murray explained that a CMPD and SBI investigation into the shooting indicated that Scott was armed with a handgun during the deadly confrontation with officers and ignored commands to drop the weapon.  According to another report by the Observer, protestors marched from CMPD headquarters to the city center following the announcement; speakers at the protest called for increased police transparency.  Keep reading for more news.

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Fourth Circuit Affirms Doe v. Cooper

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its opinion in Doe v. Cooper yesterday. A unanimous panel of the court affirmed a decision from Middle District of North Carolina finding two parts of G.S. 14-208.18—North Carolina’s premises restrictions for certain sex offenders—unconstitutional. Continue reading

Getting a Car for Christmas

Five years ago, my husband “gave” me a minivan for Christmas. Sure, it was fun to find the keys in my stocking and to put one of the children in the third row seat on the way to grandma’s, forcing him to stretch to touch his siblings. But it wasn’t all fun and games. On the way back from my in-laws’ house, I sheepishly asked:  So, how much are the payments? Gulp.  And then there is that pesky December registration renewal, which increases my already out-sized December expenditures and adds to my long year-end “to do” list. On top of that, my registration renewal wound up costing me an extra $8 last year. Read on to learn more about my total bill and how you can avoid the new late fee for registration renewals.  Continue reading

Sexual Activity as a Confidential Marital Communication

Is having sex with your spouse “communication”? The court of appeals addressed this issue in State v. Godbey, a child sexual abuse case. The victim alleged that the defendant engaged in specific, unusual sexual acts with her. The court considered whether the defendant’s wife could be compelled to testify that the defendant engaged in similar acts with her, or whether those acts were covered by the confidential marital communication privilege. Continue reading

Five Things I’m Thankful For

Today’s post is the last for the week since the School of Government is closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. In honor of the occasion, I want to recognize five criminal-law-related institutions, programs, and people for which I am particularly grateful. Continue reading

Recent North Carolina Case on Lack of Reasonable Suspicion to Make Vehicle Stop

Although reasonable suspicion requires less evidence than probable cause and often is not a difficult standard for an officer to satisfy to make an investigative stop, the standard requires an articulation of facts that is more than a mere hunch or suspicion. An example of the latter is last week’s North Carolina Court of Appeals opinion in State v. Watson (November 15, 2016), which ruled that an officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make a vehicle stop for illegal drugs. This post discusses the reasonable suspicion standard as applied in this case. Continue reading

Shoplifting and Larceny

I recently had occasion to think about the relationship between shoplifting and larceny. Continue reading

News Roundup

CNN reports that “[t]he latest FBI annual hate crimes report shows a sharp spike in the number of hate crimes nationwide, with attacks against Muslims increasing the most sharply.” The report is based on data from 2015, compared to 2014. While the percentage increase for crimes against Muslims was greatest, anti-Semitic incidents were the most prevalent in absolute terms.  The report is available here. Has there been an increase in hate crimes after the recent presidential election? Yes. Or, no. Or, yes, just like after President Obama was first elected. We may need more than 10 days of data to answer that question definitively. Keep reading for more news.

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In-Chambers Modifications and Extensions of Probation

Not all changes to a person’s probation happen after a hearing. Many changes are made in chambers (or some other location other than the courtroom), with the consent of the parties. Though it happens all the time, the General Statutes don’t really say much about it. Today’s post covers some of the issues that can arise. Continue reading