The Opinion Question: Myth or Magic?

Even the greenest of prosecutors knows to ask it.  And all officers, from rookie to veteran, know how to answer. Rare is the impaired driving case without it. What’s the it? The opinion question, of course. You’ll find the following exchange recorded in many a DWI transcript. Q: Did you form an opinion, satisfactory to … Read more

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

I See Cocaine

Can a lay witness testify that she could tell just by looking at a substance that it was, in fact, a controlled substance? (Let’s assume the witness has extensive dealings with drugs and therefore a basis of personal knowledge, and leave aside the credibility issues that may arise if she has been an enthusiastic consumer … Read more