Week 4, 2021

Advance Sheet No. 4: Feb. 3, 2021

S.C. Court of Appeals Published Decisions

In the Interest of Christopher H., Op. No. 5797 

Judge Thomas: Feb. 3, 2021

Appellant appealed a sentencing order that required him to register as a sex offender on the private sex offender registry. He argued that the sentencing court erred in finding that good cause existed for placing him on the registry because there was insufficient evidence showing he was at risk of reoffending. 

The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that the sentencing court abused its discretion in ordering the appellant placed on the registry. The court reasoned that the State failed to show good cause, as required by S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-430(D), because the evidence indicated only a low risk of appellant reoffending and the evidence overwhelmingly indicated registry was inappropriate in this case. The court held that the good cause requirement demonstrated an intent by the legislature to require more than a scintilla of evidence of risk and a low risk of reoffending was inconsistent with the intent of the statute. Thus, the court reversed the sentencing court’s decision. 

Lampley v. Hulon, Op. No. 5798

Judge Thomas: Feb. 3, 2021 

The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that § 15-78-60(14) of the S.C. Tort Claims Act allowed the appellant to recover damages from the Sheriff because the Sheriff was not his employer. Specifically, the court pointed out that § 15-78-60(14) is an exception to the bar on governmental liability and allows liability for “claims by or on behalf of an injured employee to recover damages from any person other than an employer.” 

The court acknowledged that under state law neither the Sheriff nor the Sheriff’s Deputies are state employees. But the distinguished the appellant’s employment from being employed by the Sheriff: the appellant was a county employee and not an employee of the Sheriff because the Sheriff does not have control over the appellant, does not pay the appellant, does not furnish the appellant with equipment, and does not have the right to fire the appellant. Thus, the court reversed the trial court’s decision.

Vanover v. State, Op. No. 5799

Judge Hewitt: Feb. 3, 2021

After being convicted of two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, The petitioner argued that his trial counsel was ineffective because his counsel failed to investigate or present evidence that the alleged victim had previously made and withdrawn an allegation of inappropriate conduct against a middle school teacher. 

The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence of the petitioner because he failed to provide evidence that his counsel failed to present admissible evidence at trial or that he was prejudiced by its omission. Therefore, the court affirmed the post-conviction relief court’s denial of relief. 

State v. Green, Op. No. 5800 

Judge Huff: Feb. 3, 2021 

The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that although defense counsel did object to the admission of a detective’s testimony solely on the basis of relevance, the testimony was relevant to the credibility of the victim and there was no objection stating that the testimony invaded the jury’s province to decide witness credibility, therefore, the issue was not preserved for appeal. 

Noting there is “no due process violation from cross-examination on a defendant’s silence for impeachment purposes when the record [is] devoid of evidence that the defendant received Miranda warnings,” the court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the petitioner had not been provided his Miranda warnings because there was reasonable factual support and the trial judge has the authority to make a factual determination on whether Miranda warnings have been given when deciding whether to allow cross-examination of a defendant’s silence. 

The court also held that the appellant waived any alleged error, which could have resulted in a mistrial, because even though the verdict was reached by eleven jurors after one juror was unable to participate in deliberations due to a medical condition, defense counsel failed to raise an objection concerning the jury or the verdict until after the jury’s verdict was published.

Hugh Gallagher IV