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Opinion Digests

Jul 25, 2023

Criminal Practice – PCR – Ineffective Assistance Claim – Mutual Combat Instruction

After quarreling with in-laws (a brother-in-law and the husband of petitioner’s niece) earlier in the day, petitioner and two accomplices engaged in an exchange of gunfire with petitioner’s in-laws and their relatives. Given the apparent willingness of each combatant – including petitioner – to engage in an armed encounter, there was an inference of mutual […]

Jul 25, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody Modification – Manipulative Behavior

The appellant-Father showed the parties’ minor sons emails between the parents in which, for example, Father accused the respondent-Mother of being unfaithful, manipulative, and an “unrepentant liar and deceiver” and of engaging in “sinful, wicked choices” and “emotional psychological abuse of the boys[.]” Further, despite the fact that Mother chose to maintain her married name [&hel[...]

Jul 25, 2023

Criminal Practice – Murder – Jury & Jurors – NGRI Plea – Mitigating Factors

Juror #338 expressed confusion about why the jury could be informed about the consequences of a guilty verdict (i.e., life without parole or death) but not informed of the consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). Because Juror #338 unambiguously said she could not consider an NGRI verdict unless she […]

Jul 24, 2023

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Probation Condition – Adult Pornography – Vagueness

A special condition of supervised release prohibits defendant not only from possessing materials depicting or describing child pornography, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2256, but also from possessing or accessing materials or web sites depicting children or adults in the nude and/or engaged in sexual activity; it further prohibits him from patronizing businesses or […]

Jul 24, 2023

Administrative – Social Security Disability – Treating Physician – Weight

The administrative law judge cited specific examples to explain why the 2018 opinion of treating physician Dr. Paul Weaver was not entitled to controlling weight: (1) Weaver’s treatment records “reflect no significantly adverse mental health findings” and (2) Weaver noted in April 2018 that plaintiff was riding a bicycle for exercise. However, the ALJ did […]

Jul 24, 2023

Wills & Trusts – Mortgages – Executor/Trustee’s Authority – Banks & Banking

Although a will and testamentary trust charged the executor/trustee – who also held a life estate in the trust’s property – with protecting the interests of the remaindermen, the will and trust also gave the executor/trustee full authority to mortgage the trust property, and the defendant-lender had no monitor the executor/trustee’s use of the mortgage […]

Jul 24, 2023

Real Property – Easements – Abandoned Railroad – Reversion – Laches

After a railway was abandoned in 1980, the adjacent property owners waited 30 years to assert that the railroad’s easement reverted to them. Although the railroad had purported to transfer the easement land to defendants’ predecessors, and although defendants had made some improvements towards converting the land into a walking trail, since defendants failed to […]

Jul 24, 2023

Real Property – Easements – Scope of Permission – Adverse Possession

Plaintiff’s land lies next to that of a church, and the church granted him permission to use the church’s land to get from his house on the front part of his lot to his landscaping workshop on the rear of his lot. While plaintiff contends that his use of the church’s land exceeded the permission […]

Jul 24, 2023

Criminal Practice – PCR – Ineffective Assistance Claim – Homicide by Child Abuse – Prior Bad Acts

Petitioner was convicted of homicide by child abuse (HCA) after (1) he woke to find his four-month-old adopted son (Victim) asphyxiated underneath his armpit; (2) petitioner successfully performed CPR; (3) he left Victim in his playpen and went outside to mow the lawn; (4) petitioner’s wife awoke to find Victim was not breathing; (5) a […]

Jul 24, 2023

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – 17-Year-Old Defendant – Aiken Factors

The resentencing court stated that defendant had been “within one year of” adulthood when his crime was committed. While the fact that an offender is 17 is relevant, we reiterate that 17-year-olds are children entitled to the protection of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 765 S.E.2d […]

Jul 24, 2023

Tort/Negligence – Negligent Misrepresentation – Real Property – Wood-Destroying Fungi

During the lead-up to the sale of a house in Pawley’s Island, the sellers’ real estate agent told the buyers’ real estate agent, “CL-100 was done yesterday and from what I understand it was good, but I can obtain the report if/when necessary as the sellers paid for it.” In fact, the sellers’ agent had […]

Jul 13, 2023

Civil Practice – Mootness – COVID Relief Funds – Reallocated & Dispersed

When South Carolina’s governor attempted to distribute COVID relief funds to religious and other private schools, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that this would be unconstitutional under S.C. Const. art. XI, § 4 (“§ 4”), which prohibits the use of public funds “for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.” […]

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