Category: Appellate Opinions

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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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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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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Curtilage Revisited – Trafficking Weight Cocaine Suppressed

Last December, I wrote about State v. Bash, where the S.C. Supreme Court thankfully re-affirmed that a police officer cannot enter a person’s yard without a warrant or exigent circumstances in order to search for drugs.  The defendant was charged with trafficking in cocaine > 400 grams and trafficking in crack cocaine 10-28 grams.  The [..]

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When is a Search Warrant Valid?

The short answer is: usually, but you never know until you investigate and challenge it.  In State v. Thompson, the S.C. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and the trial court, finding that extensive documentation of the defendant’s drug dealings and connection to a particular residence does not constitute probable cause to issue a [..]

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PCR and Habeas Corpus in South Carolina

The S.C. Supreme Court held in In Re Chapman this month that persons committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) have a right to effective assistance of counsel.  Although they cannot file a Post Conviction Relief (PCR) action, they can challenge an SVP commitment collaterally through Habeas proceedings. Post Conviction Relief (PCR) South Carolina has designated [..]

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