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What is Wrong With Michelle Carter’s Conviction?

Everything. What the girl did was unthinkable and, from someone who has two small children, horrifying. But the facts do not fit the crime that she was charged with, either – the charges, the prosecution, the trial, the conviction were all wrong. Furthermore, the fact that the girl was tried by a juvenile court judge [..]

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To Testify or Not to Testify

The question of whether a defendant in a criminal trial should testify is complex and the answer depends on many different variables. Most criminal defense lawyers will say that the defendant should not testify as a general rule. Some say that the defendant should always testify as a general rule. There are valid reasons for [..]

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Cross Examination Using Mental Health Records

Does the defense have the right to cross-examine a state’s witness with their mental health records? It depends. In State v. Blackwell, a death penalty appeal decided by the South Carolina Supreme Court last week, the Court directly addressed this issue for the first time. The Court’s opinion contained a misplaced emphasis on statutory protections [..]

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Subpoenas and the Double Standard Applied to S.C. Prosecutors

In a disciplinary opinion last November, the S.C. Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a family court lawyer for issuing subpoenas without notice to the other side. In civil cases, including the family court, Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure require that a party provide notice to the other side when a subpoena is issued, [..]

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How to Fight the DMV and Win

The S.C. Court of Appeals decision in Davis v. SCDMV is the story of how an ordinary person can fight arbitrary, ridiculous decisions by the DMV and win. The DMV tried to revoke Davis’ license as a habitual traffic offender six years after his third conviction for DUS. Davis fought the revocation at an admin [..]

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Lifetime Registration and Monitoring for Juvenile Sex Offenders

This month the S.C. Supreme Court affirmed the requirement of lifetime sex-offender registration and lifetime electronic monitoring of juveniles who are convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. It’s a horrible case: a 15-year-old boy was accused of forcing oral sex and attempting anal sex with a 5-year-old child. As a consequence, he [..]

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Errors in South Carolina Crime Labs

An audit of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) crime has revealed flawed examinations of gunshot residue samples over a period of a year and a half. The errors were found in 34 shooting cases in 13 different judicial districts and include samples tested in police officer Michael Slager’s North Charleston murder of unarmed [..]

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The Limits of Religious Freedom

A heroin dealer’s claim that his charges for distributing heroin to consenting adults violated his religious freedom was denied by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals week before last. The defendant was sentenced to 27 years in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. Before his trial in St. Louis in 2015, Anderson demanded that the [..]

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Forensic Sciences – Search for Truth or Prosecution Tool?

After a decade or so of progress in identifying and acknowledging the huge problems with forensic science used to obtain convictions in our nation’s courtrooms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month disbanded the nonpartisan National Commission on Forensic Science and announced that the department would no longer review closed cases for inaccurate or unsupported statements [..]

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Horry County Drug Court

The 15th Circuit Drug Court program has been up and running for eight years now. Results? I have seen participants who came out of the program clean and sober. The opportunity to participate in the program has literally saved lives and kept families together. I have also seen participants who could not stay clean, flunked [..]

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