Standards of Review: Plain Error

by | Apr 30, 2021

The standard of review is a legal term which guides the appellate court regarding the degree of deference it must afford the lower court’s judgment. Plain error is a standard of review which arises in criminal cases when there is a question of fact that is “’so basic, so prejudicial, so lacking in its elements that justice cannot have been done[.]’” State v. Odom, 307 N.C. 655, 660, 300 S.E.2d 375, 378 (1983) (quoting United States v. McCaskill, 676 F.2d 995, 1002 (4th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1018, 74 L. Ed. 2d. 513 (1982)). The tougher standard of plain error review requires a showing of prejudice against a substantial right and does not just mean an obvious or apparent error as a lay reading might suggest. Id.

The Law Office of Mark L. Hayes is in a unique position as one of a small number of firms in North Carolina that practices solely in appellate law. Mr. Hayes has represented clients on appeal in nearly two hundred cases at all levels, including the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States. With years of experience in appellate matters, Mr. Hayes is versed in applying and arguing under the different standards of review used in North Carolina and their respective analyses.

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