In The Court of Appeals

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of James Bennington,

Appeal From Lexington County
Alison Renee Lee, Circuit Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No. 2003-UP-725
Submitted October 15, 2003 – Filed December 16, 2003


Jonathan R. Hendrix, of Lexington, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Deputy Attorney General Treva Ashworth, Assistant Attorney General Deborah R. J. Shupe, and Assistant Attorney General R. Westmoreland Clarkson, all of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  James Bennington appeals the circuit court’s denial of his request for two separate annual review hearings on his status as a sexually violent predator.  We affirm. [1]


In 1989, Bennington pled guilty to three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  In 1992, he pled guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, second degree, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  At the conclusion of his sentence, Bennington was committed to the Department of Mental Health as a sexually violent predator pursuant to a petition by the State.

Approximately a year later, Bennington’s mental status was reviewed as required by South Carolina’s Sexually Violent Predator Act.  At that time, he was determined to still be a very high risk for re-offending.  Nevertheless, Bennington exercised his right to petition for release against the recommendation of his treatment providers.  His petition and the annual review report were forwarded to the circuit court.  A hearing was not scheduled until after a second annual review report was prepared.   Bennington, once again against the recommendation that he remain confined despite his progress, filed a second petition to be released. 

Bennington moved to have separate hearings on his two annual review reports.  In the interest of judicial economy, the court denied the request for separate hearings but determined separate rulings would be made for each report.  In its ruling, the court noted there was no indication Bennington would suffer prejudice because only one hearing was held.  In its order, the court found no probable cause to believe based on the 2001 report that Bennington’s mental abnormality had so changed that he is safe to be released.  Thus the court concluded there was no basis for a trial on the issue.  The court reached the same finding and conclusion regarding the 2002 report.


The Sexually Violent Predator Act requires an annual examination of the mental condition of each person committed pursuant to the act.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-48-110 (2002).  The annual report must be provided to the court that committed the person, which must then hold an annual hearing to review the person’s status.  Id.  Bennington argues the trial court erred in failing to hold two separate hearings on his 2001 and 2002 annual reviews.  We find no error. 

Bennington does not challenge the court’s failure to hold a hearing in 2001 on his 2001 annual review, contending only that he was entitled to two separate hearings.  Although the court held one hearing, it considered each annual review and Bennington’s status for that year separately.  We cannot determine how Bennington would have benefited from receiving two separate hearings after his 2002 annual review report was already completed.  Because he has not argued he suffered any prejudice by the court’s refusal to hold separate hearings, a reversal of the court’s decision to hold one hearing is not warranted.  McKissick v. J.F. Cleckley & Co., 325 S.C. 327, 350, 479 S.E.2d 67, 78 (Ct. App. 1996) (noting that an appellant must show both error and prejudice for reversal).  Therefore, the order on appeal is


HUFF, STILWELL, and BEATTY, JJ., concur.

[1]        We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.