Visual Identification of Drugs Takes Another Hit

Update: On February 16, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an opinion in State v. Davis, in which law enforcement officers were allowed to offer lay testimony without objection that the substance the defendant sold them was crack cocaine. In a footnote, the Davis panel stated that Llamas-Hernandez did not overrule Freeman as to … Read more


High Court Declines to Revisit or Modify Melendez-Diaz

On June 25, 2009, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, holding that forensic laboratory reports are testimonial and thus subject to the new Crawford Confrontation Clause rule. The case, which was decided by a 5-to-4 vote, was a blow to prosecutors, who were hoping that the Court would limit … Read more

Electronic Evidence

Regular readers know that I have a particular interest in the intersection of new technologies and criminal law. But I am not the only person at the School of Government interested in this topic. My colleague Cheryl Howell recently taught a session on electronic evidence — essentially, how the rules of evidence apply to things … Read more


North Carolina’s Notice and Demand Statute for Chemical Analyses in Drug Cases Is Constitutional

In Melendez-Diaz v. Massachussetts, the United States Supreme Court held that forensic laboratory reports—such as those identifying a substance as a controlled substance—are testimonial and subject to the new Crawford Confrontation Clause rule. For more detail on that decision, you can review a paper posted here. Under the Crawford rule, testimonial statements by declarants who … Read more


Using Other Bad Acts to Prove Malice in a Vehicular Homicide Case

Among the most recent batch of opinions issued by the Court of Appeals was State v. Tellez, in which the court upheld the defendant’s conviction of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of felonious hit and run arising from a fatal car crash. Here are the facts: Defendant went to a party in … Read more


State v. Mobley: Green Light to the Use of Substitute Analysts

In previous posts [editor’s note: her prior posts are here and here] I have written about the developing North Carolina law on the use of substitute analysts after Melendez-Diaz. In writing about State v. Locklear and State v. Galindo, both of which rejected substitute analyst testimony, I noted a common feature of those cases that … Read more


Galindo and “Substitute Analysts” After Melendez-Diaz

On October 20, 2009, the North Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Galindo, holding that a Crawford violation occurred when the State’s expert gave an opinion, in a drug trafficking case, as to the weight of the cocaine at issue, based “solely” on a laboratory report by a non-testifying analyst. To put the decision … Read more

The “Explains Conduct” Non-Hearsay Purpose

Most readers of this blog know that hearsay evidence, meaning an out-of-court statement “offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted,” N.C. R. Evid. 801(c), is presumptively inadmissible. Sometimes the proponent of hearsay evidence can introduce the evidence under one of the exceptions in Rules 803 and 804. But equally often, the … Read more

Evidentiary Issues in Sex Crimes Cases

I recently completed an Administration of Justice Bulletin on evidentiary issues in sex crimes cases. It’s available for free here. It covers the application of N.C. R. Evid. 412, i.e., the rape shield rule, as well as the application of N.C. Rule Ev. 404(b) as it relates to evidence of prior sexual misconduct by the … Read more

Melendez-Diaz “Fix”

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachussetts, as most readers of this blog know, is the United States Supreme Court’s latest pronouncement on the Confrontation Clause. Generally, it holds that forensic laboratory reports — like chemical analyses of drugs, DNA tests, and so on — are “testimonial” for Confrontation Clause purposes. That means a laboratory report generally may not … Read more