Tagged: Directed Verdict

Another Good Circumstantial Evidence Case

On May 28, 2014, the South Carolina Court of Appeals decided State v. Bennett, holding that the trial judge should have directed a verdict of not guilty because the prosecution failed to present substantial circumstantial evidence that would allow the jurors to infer Bennett’s guilt. The State charged Bennett with burglary of a community center […]

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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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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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Homicide by Child Abuse: Reconciling Recent Court Opinions

On December 11, 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Hepburn, holding “the State did not present substantial circumstantial evidence sufficient to warrant the denial of [Ashley Hepburn’s] mid-trial directed verdict motion.”  The State jointly tired Ms. Hepburn with her codefendant, Brandon Lewis.  Previously, on May 3, 2013, the Court of Appeals had […]

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Supreme Court Watch: 2013 Year in Review

2013 was a major year in criminal law for the South Carolina Supreme Court. Interviews in Child Sexual Abuse Cases – In January 2013, our Supreme Court decided State v. Kromah, hopefully putting to rest prosecution attempts to improperly bolster child witnesses in criminal sexual conduct cases.  Kromah is the most recent of numerous cases […]

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SC Supreme Court Watch: New Circumstantial Evidence Jury Instruction

On August 14, 2013, in State v. Logan, S.C. Supreme Court Opinion Number 27296, our Supreme Court adopted the following circumstantial evidence jury instruction: There are two types of evidence which are generally presented during a trial—direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence directly proves the existence of a fact and does not require deduction. […]

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SC Supreme Court Watch: Circumstantial Evidence Jury Instruction

Traditionally, trial court judges followed State v. Edwards, 298 S.C. 272, 379 S.E.2d 888 (1989) when explaining circumstantial evidence to jurors.  In addition to requiring the State to prove every circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt, Edwards required: [A]ll of the circumstances so proven be consistent with each other and taken together, point conclusively to the […]

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