Tagged: Jury Instructions

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 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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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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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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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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South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction is Obsolete and Inadequate

As discussed in a recent blog post entitled, “History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction,” the following jury instruction is required in self-defense cases: Self-defense is a complete defense. If established, you must find the defendant not guilty. There are four elements required by law to establish self-defense in this case. First, the defendant must […]

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History of South Carolina’s Self-Defense Jury Instruction

Formally in South Carolina, self-defense was an affirmative defense an accused was required to prove by preponderance of the evidence.  E.g. State v. Finley, 277 S.C. 548, 290 S.E.2d 808 (1982) and State v. Bolton, 266 S.C. 444, 223 S.E.2d 863 (1976). Applying this burden of proof, in State v. Hendrix, 270 S.C. 653, 657-58, […]

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