Temporal Proximity Requirement Cases

In State v. Miller, the Court unanimously held that driving convictions occurring sixteen years prior to the current charges were admissible to prove malice in second-degree murder cases. 142 N.C. App. 435, 440, 543 S.E.2d 201, 205 (2001). See also Rich, 351 N.C. at 400, 527 S.E.2d at 307 (upholding admission of a nine-year-old speeding conviction to show malice). In State v. Goodman, a majority of the Court held that it was not plain error to admit a driving record that contained convictions dating back thirty-seven years. 149 N.C. App. 57, 70, 560 S.E.2d 196, 205 (2002). Judge Greene dissented and asserted the admission of defendant's entire thirty-seven year driving record violated the temporal proximity requirement of Rule 404(b) and constituted error. Id. at 73, 560 S.E.2d at 206. As the basis of his holding, Judge Greene stated: Although defendant has six prior driving while impaired convictions dating back to 1962, only one of those occurred in the sixteen years prior to the crime at issue and none within the eight years prior to the crime at issue. Furthermore, defendant's driving record contained convictions older than sixteen years of reckless driving, driving while license suspended, hit and run with property damage, unsafe moving violations, speeding, driving too fast for conditions, and driving on the wrong side of the road. This error is of a fundamental nature and, in my opinion, had a "probable impact on the jury's finding of guilt" and thus constitutes plain error. State v. Odom, 307 N.C. 655, 661, 300 S.E.2d 375, 379 (1983). From the record, it appears the jury had difficulty in determining whether defendant had acted with malice because during its deliberations, the jury requested to have the definition of malice read twice. the jury later requested the trial court permit it to have a written definition of malice along with defendant's driving record to consider during its deliberations. Accordingly, I would grant defendant a new trial. Id. on appeal, our Supreme Court per curiam reversed the majority for the reasons stated in Judge Greene's dissenting opinion. State v. Goodman, 357 N.C. 43, 577 S.E.2d 619 (2003).