Blog

Due Process Required Before Department of Corrections Can Change Interpretation of Sentence

On May 28, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided Tant v. S.C. Department of Corrections.  While recognizing a duty and responsibility for the Department of Corrections to correct errors in its records, our Court recognized “the reality that an individual’s freedom is in implicated in these determinations.”  The Court held, “[W]henever the Department alters […]

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S.C. Court of Appeals Decision Erodes the “Protections of Persons and Property Act”

State v. Manning, decided on May 7, 2014 by the Court of Appeals, erodes the protections of our state’s “Protection of Persons and Property Act,” S.C. Code Ann. §16-11-410, et. seq., which is also known as the “Castle Doctrine.”  The Court of Appeals narrowly construed the statute only to protect a person when an intruder […]

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DUI Field Sobriety Tests Must Be Videotaped

On April 23, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Gordon.  The Court held: Because the purpose of the videotaping is to create direct evidence of the arrest, if the actual tests cannot be seen on the recording, the requirement is pointless.  Accordingly, the circuit court correctly found that the head must […]

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To Obtain a Search Warrant, Law Enforcement Must Provide Judge Information About the Informant’s Credibility

On April 23, 2014, the Court of Appeals decided State v. Robinson, holding that law enforcement did not provide the judge information about the informant’s credibility that is necessary to support the issuance of a search warrant.  Robinson is significant because it rejected an unsubstantiated statement—that is far too common–contained in the search warrant affidavit […]

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Failure to Instruct Jurors about Involuntary Manslaughter Requires New Trial

On April 23, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Battle and ordered a new trial for a man convicted of murder because the trial judge did not instruct the jurors about involuntary manslaughter. Battle testified that the decedent pointed a handgun at him.  Battle grabbed the gun, and a struggle ensued.  […]

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Controversy Over Child Sexual Abuse Interviews Continues

On April 9, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Portillo.  Although the Court of Appeals found two types of error, the Court concluded that error was not reversible error in this case. The Court relied on our Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Kromah and held the trial judge erred in […]

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Open Letter to Politicians Attacking Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Republican Governor’s Association has launched an attack ad against South Carolina Democratic Party candidate for Governor, state Senator Vincent Sheheen.  The ad can be viewed by clicking the link to this news story.  Not only is this political ad designed to stir emotions, it is also misleading and fails to recognize the vital role […]

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Who Decides Whether the Jurors Consider the Lesser-Included Offenses: Trial Judge or Defendant?

On March 19, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided Abney v. State, holding trial counsel employed a legitimate trial strategy by not requesting the trial court judge instruct the jurors about the lesser-included offense.  The all-or-nothing approach failed, and the jurors convicted Abney of armed robbery without ever having the opportunity to consider […]

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Recommending New Self-Defense Jury Instructions in South Carolina

Previous blog posts have reviewed the “History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction” and explained why “South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction is Obsolete and Inadequate.”  This post recommends new jury instructions to replace the outdated ones. The following instruction is recommended in homicide cases: A person is justified in using force which is intended or […]

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Self-Defense: Directed Verdict Standard vs. Prosecution’s Burden of Proof

On March 12, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Butler, which presented the issue of “whether the trial court erred in refusing to apply a standard requiring the state to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt at the directed verdict stage.”  Our Court denied relief, affirmed the conviction, and explained the difference […]

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