Supreme Court Published Opinions - February 2020
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.
2-5-2020 - Opinions
The Court extends its mutual combat jurisprudence, finding all combatants may be held criminally responsible for the death or injury of an innocent bystander under the "hand of one is the hand of all" theory of accomplice liability.
In this appeal from a felony DUI conviction, Appellant Terry McCall contends the warrantless collection of his blood and urine at the direction of law enforcement pursuant to Section 56-5-2946 of the South Carolina Code (2018) violates the Fourth Amendment. We affirm because exigent circumstances existed to support the admission of his blood and urine test results.2-12-2020 - Opinions
Respondents, individually and as members of a putative class, brought this declaratory judgment action against the Department of Revenue seeking refunds of amounts garnished from their wages by the Department to satisfy delinquent debts they allegedly owe to other governmental entities. The merits of the case are not before the Court, as the sole issue on appeal arises from the circuit court's grant of Respondents' motion to strike one defense from the Department's answer to Respondents' second amended complaint. We reverse the circuit court and hold this case cannot proceed as a class action against the Department.
The Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in State v. Spears, 420 S.C. 363, 802 S.E.2d 803 (Ct. App. 2017). The Court reverses the court of appeals and upholds Eric T. Spears' conviction. The Court holds there is evidence in the record to support the trial court's finding that Spears engaged in a consensual encounter with law enforcement and that Spears' subsequent actions created a reasonable suspicion that he may have been armed and dangerous, justifying law enforcement's frisk.2-19-2020 - Opinions
The Court granted the State a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in State v. Hardin, 425 S.C. 1, 819 S.E.2d 177 (Ct. App. 2018). We now dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.
27946 - Rent-A-Center v. SCDOR
We issued a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in Rent-A-Center East, Inc. v. South Carolina Department of Revenue, 425 S.C. 582, 824 S.E.2d 217 (Ct. App. 2019). We now dismiss the writ as improvidently granted.
27947 - Bluestein v. Town of Sullivans Island
The Court reverses the court of appeals' decision in Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan's Island, 424 S.C. 362, 818 S.E.2d 239 (Ct. App. 2018), and finds the court of appeals erred in affirming the entry of summary judgment for the Town of Sullivan's Island.
The Court affirms the court of appeals' decision as modified, finding law enforcement's limited search of a cell phone's SIM card to establish ownership of the phone was reasonable under the circumstances and therefore did not constitute a Fourth Amendment violation.
27949 - Preservation Society v. SCDHEC
Petitioners seek a contested case hearing in the administrative law court (ALC) to challenge the propriety of state environmental authorizations issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for a project relocating and expanding the passenger cruise facility at the Union Pier Terminal (the Terminal) in downtown Charleston. Petitioners maintain they have standing to seek this hearing as "affected persons" under section 44-1-60(G) of the South Carolina Code (2018). The ALC concluded Petitioners did not have standing and granted summary judgment to Respondents. The ALC terminated discovery and also sanctioned Petitioners for requesting a remand to the DHEC Board. The court of appeals affirmed. Pres. Soc'y of Charleston v. S.C. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Control, Op. No. 2017-UP-403 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Oct. 18, 2017). This Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari. Because we find Petitioners have standing, we reverse the grant of summary judgment and remand the matter to the ALC for a contested case hearing. We instruct the ALC to establish a reasonable schedule for the completion of discovery. We also reverse the sanction imposed by the ALC.