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Tag Archives: Jury Instructions

Criminal Practice – Jury Instructions – Jury Nullification – Appeals — Attorneys – Ineffective Assistance Claim – MAR

State v. Kelly Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on jury nullification. We know of no authority for the trial court to instruct the jury on jury nullification, which is the jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law. If defendant’s argument were to be adopted, it would lead to chaos and an absence of justice in North Carolina.

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Criminal Practice – Evidence – Confession – Corpus Delicti Rule – Trustworthiness – Jury Instructions

State v. Sweat The state’s only substantive evidence of four sexual offenses were defendant’s written confession to two instances of fellatio with the minor victim and his oral confession to four such instances. The state satisfied the corpus delicti rule by showing that defendant had ample opportunity to commit the crimes, he confessed to details likely to be known only to the perpetrator, incidents of fellatio fit within the pattern of defendant’s other crimes against the victim, and the victim related four incidents of fellatio to third parties in extrajudicial statements.

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Criminal Practice – Second-Degree Murder – Jury Instructions – Felony Murder – Child Abuse

State v. Barrow Where our Court of Appeals held, Since the state's evidence would have permitted the jury to find that defendant did not use a deadly weapon but still killed the five-month-old victim with malice, the trial court properly instructed the jury on the offense of second-degree murder, we affirm.

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Criminal Practice – Second-Degree Murder – High-Speed Chase – Evidence – Shoplifting Spree – Malice — Driving Without a License – Post-Accident Conduct – Jury Instructions

State v. Rollins Defendant had been shoplifting before the high-speed chase that ended in a fatal crash. Evidence of the shoplifting spree was admissible to explain why defendant was trying so aggressively to evade the officers chasing him. The voluminous and organized nature of the shoplifting expedition explained why defendant was driving in the manner that he was for purposes of the malice element of second-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – DWI – ‘Vehicle’ – Self-Propulsion Not Required – Jury Instructions – Constitutional – Effective Assistance

State v. Bettis The offense of driving while impaired only requires that a defendant drive a “vehicle”, not necessarily a “motor vehicle”; therefore, the trial court correctly refused to instruct the jury that the vehicle defendant was driving had to be self-propelled.

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Criminal Practice – First-Degree Murder – Jury Instructions – Second-Degree Murder – No Evidence – Victim’s Character

State v. Laurean Even though defendant contends the state presented no evidence as to the circumstances immediately surrounding his killing of the victim, there was evidence of premeditation and deliberation, and there was no evidence to support a jury instruction on second-degree murder. Consequently, the trial court correctly declined to instruct the jury on second-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – Plain Error Standard – Jury Instructions – Armed Robbery & Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery – No Prejudice

State v. Lawrence When the trial judge instructed the jury on the charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, he erroneously omitted the element that the weapon must have been used to endanger or threaten the life of the victim. However, the judge had already correctly instructed the jury on the charge of armed robbery.

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Tort/Negligence – Slip & Fall – Jury Instructions – Minor Plaintiff – Landowner’s Duty – Waterfall

Cobb ex rel. Knight v. Town of Blowing Rock According to Judge Stroud’s dissent, plaintiff’s motion for a new trial was correctly denied because the jury instructions for contributory negligence already took into account the plaintiff’s age, so plaintiff was not entitled to a jury instruction that increased the defendant-landowner’s duty based on the plaintiff’s age.

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Criminal Practice – Second-Degree Burglary – Jury Instructions – Different Theories – Voluntary Intoxication – Sentencing – Accessory – Possession of Firearms

State v. Surrett The trial court instructed the jury that, even though defendant did not actually break into the victims’ trailer, the jury could find defendant guilty of second-degree burglary under any of three legal theories: acting in concert, aiding and abetting, and accessory before the fact. The separate theories of guilt were not separate offenses but merely different methods under which the jury could find defendant guilty of second-degree murder.

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