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Apr 26, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance Claim – PCR – Guilty Plea – Competence

At his post-conviction relief hearing, respondent claimed he was rendered incompetent by drugs given to him while was in jail; however, respondent offered no evidence as to the specific medications and dosages he was administered at the jail while awaiting trial and during the time period immediately prior to his guilty plea. Moreover, respondent offered […]

Mar 29, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Sixth Amendment – Skype Testimony – Harmless Error

In the absence of an important public policy or at least an exceptional circumstance, modifying a defendant’s truest exercise of the Sixth Amendment right to an in-person confrontation of witnesses against him is inappropriate. Nevertheless, the Skype testimony in this case was harmless error since the witness’s testimony was largely cumulative to what was already […]

Mar 2, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Self-Representation – Judges – Expanded Inquiry

Holding: Although the intelligent and articulate defendant clearly expressed his desire to proceed pro se, and although he told the judge that attorney Carl Grant – though not representing him – was nevertheless coaching him, we are unaware of any cases in which a circuit judge has relied on testimony from a third-party witness – […]

Mar 1, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance Claim – PCR – Last-Minute Charge – Expired Plea Offer

Holding: If trial counsel had been successful in his attempt to “keep out” a weapons indictment that was not served on defendant until the day of trial, the effect would have been the same as a continuance. Therefore, counsel was not deficient in failing to move for a continuance. We reverse the post-conviction relief court’s […]

Feb 17, 2018

Real Property – Constitutional – Takings – Fourth Amendment – Arrest Threat

Goodwater v. County of Charleston (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-036-18, 13 pp.) (David Norton, J.) 2:17-cv-00998; D.S.C. Holding: In 2011, the defendant-county brought community roads such as Gardenhill Road (a dirt road) into the county’s regular maintenance system; in 2013, plaintiff bought three lots on Gardenhill Road. As such, plaintiff purchased the lots subject to the […]

Feb 8, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Equal Protection – Sentencing – Voluntary Manslaughter – Abused Child

State v. Walker (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-011-18, 4 pp.) (John Few, J.) Appealed from Charleston County Circuit Court (Roger Young Sr., J.) S.C. S. Ct. Holding: Even though there was ample evidence that defendant had been abused by his father and that they were living in the same household when defendant killed his father, since […]

Feb 1, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Sixth Amendment – Skype Testimony – Harmless Error

This opinion has been withdrawn. State v. Johnson (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-014-18, 18 pp.) (Aphrodite Konduros, J.) (Paul Short Jr., J., dissenting) Appealed from Clarendon County Circuit Court (W. Jeffrey Young, J.) S.C. App. Holding: In the absence of an important public policy or at least an exceptional circumstance, a defendant has the right to […]

Jan 19, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Confrontation Right – Confidential CI – Refusal to Testify – Written Statement & Video Recording – Drug Sale

State v. Smith (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-008-18, 4 pp.) (Per Curiam) Appealed from Oconee County Circuit Court (R. Scott Sprouse, J.) S.C. App. Unpub. Holding: Where the confidential informant’s written statement was clearly testimonial in nature, and where defendant never had an opportunity to cross-examine the CI on the statement, we agree with the parties […]

Jan 2, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance – Plain Error Standard – Sentencing

United States v. Carthorne (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-003-18, 20 pp.) (Barbara Milano Keenan, J.) 16-6515; Dec. 21, 2017; USDC at Greensboro, N.C. (William Osteen Jr., J.) 4th Cir. Holding: On direct appeal, this court found no plain error in defendant’s sentencing as a career offender; however, trial counsel’s failure to do research or to object led to a […]

Dec 19, 2017

Prisons & Jails – Constitutional – Eighth Amendment – ‘Rough Ride’ – Excessive Force – Deliberate Indifference

Thompson v. Virginia (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-224-17, 38 pp.) (Roger Gregory, C.J.) 15-7680; Dec. 18, 2017; USDC at Norfolk, Va. (Rebecca Beach Smith, C.J.) 4th Cir. Holding: If, as the plaintiff-prisoner forecasts, prison guards gave him a “rough ride” in a prison van in order to teach him a lesson about filing grievances, then the […]

Dec 15, 2017

Prisons & Jails – Constitutional – Eighth Amendment – Jury Instructions – Intentional Actions

Anderson v. Kingsley (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-221-17, 14 pp.) (Paul Niemeyer, J.) 16-6957; Dec. 14, 2017; USDC at Newport News, Va. (Douglas Miller, USMJ) 4th Cir. Holding: In this case involving a prisoner who was attacked and injured by another inmate, the district court instructed the jury, “Deliberate indifference is established only if the defendants . . . […]

Dec 8, 2017

Prisons & Jails – Constitutional – First Amendment – Rastafarian Services – Administrative Remedies

Wilcox v. Brown (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-213-17, 14 pp.) (William Traxler Jr., J.) 16-7596; Dec. 5, 2017; USDC at Asheville, N.C. (Frank Whitney, C.J.) 4th Cir. Holding: Where the plaintiff-prisoner alleges that defendants discontinued Rastafarian services because the prison was without a chaplain, but that when the prison hired a chaplain, defendants refused to allow […]

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