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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Supreme Court Published Opinions - June 2023

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.

6-7-2023 - Opinions

28156 - The State v. Travis Latrell Lawrence

Petitioner was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison. The court of appeals affirmed his conviction on appeal. This Court affirms the opinion of the court of appeals as modified and concludes that the Petitioner's co-defendant faced a hazard of self-incrimination to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. The Court clarifies that trial courts should not allow "blanket" invocations of the Fifth Amendment and both counsel for the witness and the party calling the witness should be present at the in camera examination.

6-14-2023 - Opinions

28157 - State v. James Caleb Williams

James Caleb Williams was indicted for the attempted murder of Ashley R., the attempted murder of Malik Myers, and one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. A jury convicted Williams of the attempted murder of Ashley R. and the possession charge. The court of appeals reversed Williams' convictions in a 2-1 opinion. State v. Williams, 435 S.C. 288, 867 S.E.2d 430 (Ct. App. 2021). The majority concluded the trial court erred in not granting Williams' directed verdict motion as to the attempted murder of Ashley R. because the doctrine of transferred intent, which the State relied on to prove Williams' intent to kill Ashley R., does not apply to specific intent crimes, such as attempted murder. The dissent disagreed and found the issue unpreserved. We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari to address whether transferred intent applies to specific intent crimes. After further deliberation, we find this issue was not preserved at trial. We therefore reverse the court of appeals' majority opinion.

28158 - Hicks Unlimited v. UniFirst

This appeal from the denial of a motion to compel arbitration arises from a dispute regarding a uniform rental contract between Hicks Unlimited (Hicks), a South Carolina company, and UniFirst Corporation (UniFirst), a Massachusetts company. The circuit court denied UniFirst's motion to compel arbitration, and the court of appeals reversed and remanded for arbitration. This Court granted certiorari to review whether the court of appeals erred in finding the Contract involved interstate commerce. We reverse the court of appeals' opinion remanding for arbitration.

28159 - Justin Jamal Lewis v. State

Petitioner Justin Jamal Lewis represented himself at trial and was convicted of distribution of heroin. Lewis timely filed an application for post-conviction relief (PCR), alleging pretrial counsel was ineffective in several respects. The PCR court summarily dismissed Lewis's application, and we granted his petition for a writ of certiorari to review the PCR court's order. We reverse the order in part and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

6-21-2023 - Opinions

28160 - In the Matter of Francis A. Oxner

For the first time, this Court considers a Sexually Violent Predator Act case arising under subsection 44-48-100(B) of the South Carolina Code. The subsection requires that before the State may proceed to a trial to commit a person not competent to stand trial, "the [circuit] court first shall hear evidence and determine whether the person committed the act or acts with which he is charged." The circuit court in this case found Francis Arthur Oxner committed the acts with which he was charged. We affirm.

28161 - The State v. Jon Smart

Today we address whether a juvenile sentenced to life in prison bears any burden of proof or persuasion when seeking resentencing under Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 765 S.E.2d 572 (2014). We hold there is no such burden--on either party--and the resentencing court did not impose such a burden. We affirm the decision of the resentencing court imposing a life sentence.

28162 - The State v. Richard Passio, Jr.

The Court affirms as modified the decision of the court of appeals, upholding the court of appeals' decision to affirm the trial court's denial of Petitioner's motion for a directed verdict, finding the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's erroneous admission of Petitioner's Facebook page, but concluding any error in admitting the Facebook page was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

28163 - Lucinda Ruh v. Metal Recycling Services, LLC

On a certified question from the Fourth Circuit, we hold the principal in an independent contractor relationship may be subject to liability for physical harm proximately caused by the principal's own negligence in selecting the independent contractor. The potential liability we recognize today is consistent with fundamental principles of tort law. It is based solely on a principal's own negligence in hiring or selecting an independent contractor. It is not a form of vicarious liability nor is it an exception to the general rule that a principal is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor.

28164 - Anthony A. Jones, ll v. State

We conclude Petitioner properly brought this challenge to subsection 63-19-20(1) of the South Carolina Code in his PCR application and the statute is constitutional. However, in keeping with our prior decisions regarding sentencing juveniles, circuit court judges must consider the mitigating factors of youth as identified in Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 765 S.E.2d 572 (2014) when sentencing, without a separate Aiken hearing. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

6-28-2023 - Opinions

28151 - Ani Creation v. City of Myrtle Beach

The Court finds Myrtle Beach's ordinance creating an overlay zoning district in the city's historic downtown area is constitutional.

28165 - State v. Tappia Green

The Court affirms as modified the decision of the court of appeals, holding the trial court did not err in allowing the State to impeach the defendant with his post-arrest silence and, thus, properly denied the defendant's motion for a mistrial.