State v. Smith

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Opinion Filed August 14, 2020
Attorney for the Case Jason Yoder
Amicus Brief Writers John Carella Glenn Gerding Ivy Johnson
Court NC Supreme Court
Docket No. 119PA18

NCAJ recently filed amicus curiae briefs in two criminal cases pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court – State v. Golder and State v. Smith. In both cases, the Court of Appeals denied review of meritorious arguments on the sufficiency of the evidence because, at trial, defense counsel supplemented a general motion to dismiss with a specific argument. Under one recent line of Court of Appeals case law, defense counsel’s oral argument “narrowed” the general motion to dismiss, which would otherwise have preserved a challenge to every element of the crime.

In its briefs, NCAJ argued that the Supreme Court should affirm its longstanding rule that a general motion to dismiss raises and preserves for appellate review a challenge to every element of the charged crime. The briefs provided the Supreme Court with analysis of three main points: (1) the long history and state constitutional underpinnings of the general preservation rule; (2) the public policy of avoiding excessive formalism exemplified in other areas of the law; and (3) the practical advantages of a simple preservation rule for judicial efficiency, the practice of law, and the value of equal access to justice.