Supreme Court Published Opinions - May 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.
5-6-2020 - Opinions
Wallace Steve Perry was convicted on four counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting two of his biological daughters. We find the trial court erred by not excluding pursuant to Rule 404(b) Perry's stepdaughter's testimony that Perry also sexually assaulted her more than twenty years earlier. The State failed to meet its burden of demonstrating a logical connection between Perry's sexual assault of his stepdaughter and his sexual assault of his biological daughters, and the stepdaughter's testimony served no other legitimate purpose other than to show Perry's propensity to commit sexual crimes. We reverse and remand for a new trial.
Appellant Larry Durant was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) for sexually abusing a teenage girl in his church office where he served as the pastor. At trial, the State called three other girls who claimed that Durant had abused them in a similar fashion. The trial court permitted the testimony as evidence of a common scheme or plan under Rule 404(b), SCRE, finding the evidence admissible pursuant to State v. Wallace, 384 S.C. 428, 683 S.E.2d 275 (2009). Applying the framework announced in State v. Perry, we affirm the admissibility of the girls' testimony. We also affirm Durant's conviction because while the State failed to accurately disclose the criminal history of al witness, that information was not material and therefore no Brady violation occurred.
In conjunction with today's decisions in State v. Perry and State v. Durant, the Court applies the new framework related to the common scheme or plan exception to Rule 404(b), SCRE; finds the second victim's testimony fits within the common scheme or plan exception; and affirms Petitioner's convictions.
This appeal arises from special prosecutor David Pascoe's State House public corruption probe involving former South Carolina House Representative Rick Quinn, Jr., who pleaded guilty to a charge of statutory misconduct in office in February 2018. Following the plea hearing, the State grew concerned about the plea's validity because Quinn only admitted to a limited set of facts supporting the indictment. Believing the plea lacked a sufficient basis, the State moved to vacate the guilty plea, reconsider the sentence, and for the court's recusal. The State appeals the order denying those motions. We dismiss the State's appeal of the guilty plea and affirm the trial court's order as to the sentence and recusal issues.5-13-2020 - Opinions
The Court granted Terry Williams a writ of certiorari to determine whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's ruling allowing the State to impeach a witness on redirect examination with details of two previous instances of domestic violence between the witness and Williams. We hold the trial court erred in allowing the State to elicit unfairly prejudicial details of the domestic violence incidents. The error was not harmless; therefore, we reverse the court of appeals and remand for a new trial.
We granted Michael Landry's petition for a writ of certiorari to determine whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the family court's denial of his motion under Rule 60(a), SCRCP, to correct an alleged clerical error in a final order. We reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand to the family court for a new hearing.
In this cross-appeal concerning the apportionment of marital assets, the issues before the Court stem from the valuation of a minority interest in a family-held business. Specifically, the question is whether the court of appeals erred in its handling of the family court's application of two discounts when determining the fair market value of a 25% interest for purposes of equitable apportionment?one for marketability and the other for a lack of control. We now affirm in part and reverse in part, reiterating that the efficacy of these discounts is determined on a case-by-case basis.5-27-2020 - Opinions
27953 - Ethier v. Fairfield Memorial
In this medical malpractice action, Petitioners Phillip and Jeanne Ethier appeal a verdict in favor of Respondent Dr. Guy Bibeau, who misdiagnosed a popliteal aneurysm as a probable spider bite. Petitioners contend the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's decision to deny granting a new trial based on intentional juror concealment and premature deliberations. We reverse and remand for a new trial.
In response to a certified question from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, we hold the three-year statute of limitations of S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530 does not apply to claims for promissory estoppel.
27973 - In the Matter of an Anonymous Member of the South Carolina Bar
27974 - In the Matter of an Anonymous Member of the South Carolina Bar
27975 - Bailey v. SC State Election
This matter was filed in the Court’s original jurisdiction, asking the Court to construe sections 7-15-310(4) and 7-15-320(B)(1) of the South Carolina Code in a manner that would permit all South Carolina voters to vote absentee on the basis that the COVID-19 virus renders all South Carolinians “physically disabled persons.” During the pendency of the lawsuit, the General Assembly convened and addressed the matter by changing the law to temporarily allow the relief the Plaintiffs sought. In addition, the South Carolina Constitution assigns to the legislative branch the authority to address election procedures, including absentee voting. Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Plaintiffs’ Complaint.