Supreme Court Published Opinions - May 2011
Note: Beginning in June 2012, opinions will be posted as Adobe PDFs. You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader here.
The summary following each opinion is prepared to offer lawyers and the public a general overview of what a particular opinion decides. The summary is not necessarily a full description of the issues discussed in an opinion.
5-2-2011 - Opinions
In this case, the Supreme Court of South Carolina declined to offer relief to a certified class of state working retirees when the legislature amended the working retirees statute to require those retirees make retirement contributions without receiving additional serviceable credit. The Court found that no contract existed between the working retirees and the state by virtue of oral and written representations made by the state retirement agency. The court reversed the circuit court's holding that the state is estopped from collecting retirement contributions from these workers, on the ground that estoppel cannot lie against the state where the state retirement agency did not have the authority to make binding representations, and on the ground that the working retirees failed to prove the necessary elements of estoppel.
In this appeal from the family court, the Supreme Court reversed the family court's finding that the unwed father's consent was required for the adoption of his child. In particular, the Court held that the mother did not thwart the father's efforts and father did not provide sufficient support for mother or the child.
The Court affirmed as modified the order of the circuit court enjoining the Department of Corrections from forwarding certain information contained in a prisoner's records to the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon services.5-9-2011 - Opinions
26969 - In the Matter of Michael Hensley Wells
This is an opinion publicly reprimanding a lawyer.
In this case, the Court reversed the family court’s order and remanded the case for reconsideration.
In this case, the Court affirmed a death penalty sentence on direct appeal.
The Court granted certiorari to review the decision of the court of appeals in Mazloom v. Mazloom, 382 S.C. 307, 675 S.E.2d 746 (Ct. App. 2009), to determine whether there was a breach of fiduciary duty and whether punitive damages were warranted. The Court held that the issue of breach was not preserved for review and accordingly summarily affirmed the award of punitive damages.
In this divorce action, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision.
In this Case, the Court affirmed the circuit court's grant of respondent's motion to dismiss, finding the circuit court properly made a pre-trial determination respondent was entitled to immunity under the Protection of Persons and Property Act.
In this PCR case, Petitioner claims trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to object to jury instructions. The PCR judge denied relief. We reverse and remand for a new trial.5-23-2011 - Opinions
In this case, the Supreme Court of South Carolina found that an objection to certain hearsay testimony at trial was preserved for appellate review, as it was both timely and specific. The Court then determined the admission of that evidence was prejudicial to the criminal defendant, as the hearsay testimony was the only solid evidence placing the defendant at the scene of the crime.
The Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of post-conviction relief to the Petitioner, finding there was evidence to support the circuit court's finding that Petitioner's trial counsel was not deficient in failing to call Petitioner's co-defendant as a witness at trial and, in any event, Petitioner suffered no prejudice.5-31-2011 - Opinions
26978 - Argoe v. Three Rivers Behavioral Health
We affirm the grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent as to Appellant's causes of action for false imprisonment, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
26979 - In the Matter of Horry County Magistrate James Oren Hughes
This is a disciplinary opinion in which the Court publicly reprimanded a magistrate.
The Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals in Miles v. Miles, Op. No. 2009-UP-007 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Jan. 7, 2009), and held that the parties' agreement to provide health insurance in this case was unambiguously a modifiable form of support. The Court also revisited its decision in Floyd v. Morgan, 383 S.C. 469, 681 S.E.2d 570, (2009), and overruled it to the extent that it placed a higher burden on parties seeking to modify an agreement for support.