It has not been long since my last cannabis update, but there are some interesting new developments to report, most notably on drug identification and marijuana. Read on for the details.
A considerable amount of digital ink has been expended on this blog discussing the rules for identifying drugs at trial and related issues, although it has been several years since we covered it. It’s an important and potentially dispositive issue in drug trials. Consider the following fact pattern:
The defendant is charged with possession of methamphetamine. During her arrest and processing, she tells the officer that she has “meth” on her person, which is seized by the officers. At trial, the officer testifies to her statement about the nature of the substance, and the alleged meth is itself introduced at trial. However, no chemical analysis is introduced, nor is there any expert testimony about the substance, and the defendant presents no evidence. At the close of the State’s evidence, the defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the State failed to provide sufficient proof of the identity of the alleged drugs. Should the motion be allowed? Read on for the answer.
Several earlier posts (here, here, here and here) and this article discuss the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Ward, 364 N.C. 133 (2010), that the identification of a controlled substance based upon mere visual inspection is insufficiently reliable to serve as the basis for an expert’s opinion pursuant to Rule 702 of … Read more
Eating the evidence might yield a stomach ache but it won’t ensure an acquittal. That is the lesson learned from State v. James, a case recently decided by the N.C. Court of Appeals. In James, an officer was patrolling in an unmarked vehicle when the defendant waived her over. As the officer opened her car … Read more
The North Carolina Supreme Court held in State v. Ward, 364 N.C. 133 (2010) (discussed here), that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting an expert chemist to identify pills as controlled substances based solely on a visual inspection and comparison with medical literature, as this methodology was not sufficiently reliable pursuant to Rule … Read more
Jeff wrote last June about the North Carolina Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Ward, which held that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting an expert chemist to identify pills as controlled substances based solely on a visual inspection and comparison with medical literature, as this methodology was not sufficiently reliable pursuant to … Read more
As I mentioned in a recent news roundup, earlier this month the Supreme Court of North Carolina decided State v. Ward. The basic holding of the case is that the visual identification of controlled substances is not reliable enough to be admitted in criminal trials, and that a chemical analysis of such substances is normally … Read more
There’s been lots of interesting news lately, so I’ll dive right in. 1. The state supreme court issued several opinions yesterday. By far the most significant criminal case is State v. Ward. I may do a whole post about Ward, but the basic holding is that visual identification of controlled substances is unreliable and that … Read more