State v. Stanley (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-07-0744, 15 pp.) (Robert N. Hunter Jr., J.) Appealed from Greene County Superior Court. (Paul L. Jones, J.) N.C. App. Click here for the full-text opinion.
Holding: Although the trial court should have instructed the jury that it was not to consider the fact that defendant was handcuffed when it weighed evidence or determined the issue of guilt, given the evidence against defendant and the trial court’s instruction about incarceration, defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to give the instruction about the handcuffs.
We find no prejudicial error in defendant’s conviction of possession of a controlled substance at a penal institution.
A forensic drug chemist with the SBI testified that the substance found on defendant was crack cocaine, and two witnesses testified the cocaine was found on defendant’s person. Additionally, due to the nature of the charge, the jury was already aware defendant was incarcerated.
At defendant’s request, the trial court instructed the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen … the defendant is in the North Carolina Department of Correction for some crime he may have committed in the past. You are not to hold that against him in any way. He does not forfeit his constitutional rights by virtue of the fact that he is a prisoner.”
While the instruction given to the jury was not sufficient to comply with G.S. § 15A-1031, it did further ameliorate any prejudice to defendant in regards to his status as a current prisoner. We find no prejudicial error by the trial court in not giving the statutorily required instruction, as we find no reasonable possibility that the instruction would have resulted in a different outcome.