In a recent case from our NC Court of Appeals, one of the Judges concurring with the majority wrote a separate opinion where he declared that in order for the Appellate Courts to have sufficient facts to determine whether a witness is correctly qualified as an expert there should be a better buildup of the record. He went on to add that the record should contain not only additional facts, but conclusions of law by the trial court on why the trial court accepted or rejected a witness as an expert.
This request for a buildup of the record is not far-fetched as it is required with other types of evidence in criminal cases, such as 404(b) evidence of prior bad acts of the defendant that the State often tries to incorporate into their criminal cases. When a witness is qualified as an expert by the trial court, a lot of their testimony becomes very difficult to refute and in most cases is key evidence that juries rely on in convicting a person.
If history has taught us anything, it is that trial courts do not always get it right. It is important to have all things considered by the trial court in making this decision on who is or is not an expert in the record. This prescribed standard will hopefully cause less people to be wrongfully convicted due to mistakes made by the trial court and save the tax payers money in the long run by not having to pay for these cases to be re-litigated. State of North Carolina v. Larry W. Abrams No. COA15-1144 (2016)
If you or someone you know needs legal representation for a DWI or any other criminal charge, please contact Roberts Law Office for a free consultation.