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South Carolina Supreme Court revisits “good character alone” jury instruction

On August 7, 2019, in Pantovich v. State, the South Carolina Supreme Court revisited our state’s “good character alone” instruction which required trial judges to instruct jurors: Good character evidence alone may create a reasonable doubt as to the commission of the crime charged. Thus, under some circumstances, a person might be entitled to a verdict […]

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South Carolina Supreme Court grants post-conviction relief in murder case

On August 7, 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court vacated a murder conviction, granted post-conviction relief (“PCR”), and ordered a new trial in State v. Felder. Felder’s trial counsel did not object when the prosecution introduced a summary of Felder’s statement that mentioned “he was currently on bond for a lynching charge.” “After weighing trial […]

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South Carolina Supreme Court rules trial judges should never instruct jurors they can infer malice from the use of a deadly weapon

The landmark case of State v. Belcher held trial judges should not instruct jurors they can infer malice from the use of a deadly weapon when there is evidence that would negate or mitigate the charge of murder. Belcher, however, left open the possibility of trial judges instructing jurors they can infer malice from the […]

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Continued Confusion About Attempted Murder

In State v. Williams, decided on June 12, 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court recognized continued confusion surrounding the prosecutions burden of proof in attempted murder cases. Although attempted murder is a specific intent crime, the trial judge, without objection, instructed the jurors that a specific intent is not required to prove attempted murder. As […]

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Prosecution must make showing before evidence of attempted suicide can be used as evidence of guilt

On September 26, 2018, in State v. Cartwright, the South Carolina Suprme Court held evidence of a suicide attempt can be admitted as evidence of guilty, “provided that the State establishes a clear and unmistakable nexus linking the suicide attempt to a guilty conscience derivative of the offense for which the defendant is on trial.” […]

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Right to confront and cross-examine a witness includes right to question witness about U-visa

On June 6, 2018, in State v. Perez, the South Carolina Court Supreme Court held Mr. Perez was prejudiced by the trial court not allowing him to cross-examine a witness about seeking a U-visa. The Court explained, “A U-visa allows victims of certain crimes, who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to […]

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South Carolina Supreme Court passes on opportunity to reconsider its holding in State v. Wallace.

On June 6, 2018, in State v. Perez, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed a conviction based on a Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause violation because the trial court did not allow Mr. Perez to cross-examine one of the prosecution’s critical witnesses about applying for a U-visa. The Court, however, passed on an opportunity to reconsider […]

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South Carolina Supreme Court provides guidance in allaying the prejudice prong in post-conviction relief cases

On February 8, 2018, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided Smalls v. State, which provides important guidance in how to analyze the prejudice prong in post-conviction relief ) “PCR” cases. Initially, the Supreme Court clarified its standard of review in PCR cases by stating, “Our standard of review in PCR cases depends on the specific […]

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Mangal v. State – What are the Takeaways?

In Mangal v. State, our Supreme Court allowed a conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor to stand in the face of a disturbing combination of ineffective assistance of trial and post-conviction relief (PCR) counsel.  Mangal’s trial counsel failed to object to expert testimony that improperly bolstered the testimony of the child, and […]

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It Should Be Hard for the Prosecution to Convict Someone of Attempted Murder

In State v. King, our Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ contention that attempted murder is a general intent, rather than a specific intent crime.  This holding, predictably, resulted from our Court’s review of its precedent and the legislative history of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2010. Prosecutors attempted to equate attempted murder to the common law offense […]

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