Plain Error but No Plain Future: North Carolina’s Plain Error Review After State v. Lawrence

BY Troy D. Shelton

When litigants fail to make timely objections to errors at trial, only some of those errors can be raised before an appellate court. Those that can be raised are subject to a deferential “plain error” standard of review. Recently, the Supreme Court of North Carolina announced a new standard for plain error review in State v. Lawrence. The new standard purports to require that the unraised error had “probable impact” on the jury’s verdict. The new standard also provides that reversible plain error “will often be one that seriously affects the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” This Recent Development takes a look at the origin of the new standard, analyzes how it can be satisfied, and explains the areas for growth in the law that Lawrence had provided.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 91 N.C. L. Rev.2218 (2013)