In addition to increasing the efficiency of DWI adjudication (about which I previously have commented), placing DWIs in Superior Court will improve a defendant’s access to discovery.
N.C.G.S 15A-901 provides that all cases in the original jurisdiction of Superior Court are governed by the State’s open-file discovery law. This means that Defendants are entitled to such discovery following a timely request.
As it currently stands, DWI discovery in District Court is effectively a mere courtesy. The prosecution is not required to hand over discovery. The prosecution usually does so as a courtesy to defense attorneys.
But sometimes that discovery is not complete. For instance, sometimes video needs to be subpoena’s. And the entire maintenance log of the Intox EC/IR machines is not available. Nor are, as a matter of right, the manual used by the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch of the DHHS in training chemical analysts.
Placing a DWI in Superior Court as a matter of original jurisdiction would cure these gaps in the defendants’ ability to defend themselves in Raleigh DWI cases.