Category: Ethics

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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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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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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No Right to Counsel in South Carolina Summary Courts

Of course there is a right to counsel, at least when a person is sentenced to jail time, but it is systematically denied to defendants in our state’s summary courts. Indigent defendants in S.C.’s summary courts typically are not provided with court-appointed counsel, even in serious cases such as DUI or domestic violence (CDV).  In [..]

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South Carolina’s Unconstitutional Summary Courts

In April of 2016, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report, entitled Summary Injustice: A Look at Constitutional Deficiencies in South Carolina’s Summary Courts, detailing the constitutional deficiencies in South Carolina’s summary courts. In January 2017, they released a follow-up report, entitled Rush to [..]

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Gonzalez v. State – Trafficking in Meth and Conflicts of Interest

In Gonzalez v. State, the S.C. Supreme Court granted post conviction relief (PCR) and vacated Gonzalez’ conviction for trafficking in methamphetamine based on his trial counsel’s conflict of interest.  Gonzalez, a juvenile, was convicted of trafficking in meth 400 grams or more after trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  His lawyer simultaneously represented [..]

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Earley v. State – When is it Ok for the Prosecutor to Withhold Discovery?

In Earley v. State, decided October 19, 2016, the S.C. Supreme Court found that where the prosecutor withheld a Defendant’s statement until he was on the witness stand, it did not warrant granting PCR to the defendant.  The defendant wrote “see ya” on the alleged victim’s Facebook page prior to trial, the prosecutor obtained the [..]

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Sink the Boat

The Missouri director of indigent defense, Michael Barrett, is making waves in Missouri with a letter sent to the state’s governor outlining the state’s failure to fund public defender offices, citing a Missouri statute authorizing the director of indigent defense to appoint any attorney in the state to represent indigents, and appointing the first case [..]

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