Decisions from the South Carolina Supreme Court

scsctOn Wednesday, October 22nd, the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued three opinions:  Jamison v. State, AJG Holdings v. Dunn, and S.C. Energy Users Committee v. SCE&G.

In AJG Holdings v. Dunn, the Court affirmed the South Carolina Court of Appeals decision regarding developer deed restrictions.  It upheld the lower court’s decision  pursuant to SCACR Rule 220(b)(1) and four cases:  Queen’s Grant II Horizontal Prop. Regime v. Greenwood Dev. Corp., McLeod v. Baptiste, Armstrong v. Roberts, and Richmond v. Pennscott Buildings, Inc.

In South Carolina Energy Users Comm. v. South Carolina Electric & Gas, the Court affirmed the decision of the Public Service Commission (PSC.)  In 2012, SCE&G asked the PSC for a base load review order to approve updates to the capital costs and construction schedules that were initially requested in its 2009 request for a project that involved “…the construction of two 1,117 net megawatt nuclear units in connection with the construction of a nuclear power plant at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station located near Jenkinsville, South Carolina.”  The PSC held a public hearing and later approved the cost increases.

The Respondent objected and filed a petition for rehearing which the PSC denied.  Respondent then filed with the Supreme Court of South Carolina.  According to the Court, it faced three issues:

1)  “Whether the Commission erred by applying the wrong section, and therefore the wrong standard, of the BLRA?

2)  Whether the Commission erred in holding that a prudency evaluation of the need for the continued construction of the units is not required under the BLRA?

3)  Whether the evidence supports the Commission’s finding that the additional capital costs were prudent under the BLRA?”

The Court concluded that the Commission did not err, agreeing that “…Appellants failed to demonstrate that the factual findings are unsupported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence in the record.”

Jamison v. State involved an appeal regarding post conviction relief.  Jamison pled guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter after firing a gun into a crowd, killing a bystander.

Jamison filed a Post Conviction Relief (PCR) petition, alleging that his guilty plea was not “…knowingly and voluntarily entered.”  The judge denied Jamison’s first petition.

Jamison then filed a second Post Conviction Relief (PCR) petition, shortly thereafter, claiming newly discovered evidence  He discovered the existence of a witness who was willing to testify that Jamison had been defending himself when he fired into the crowd, i.e.self defense existed.   The judge then ordered post conviction relief on the basis of “fundamental fairness” and a new trial.  The State appealed but the PCR relief was upheld by the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

Applying the South Carolina Uniform Post Conviction Relief Act (S.C. Code of Laws Sections 17-27-10 through 17-27-160), the Supreme Court, with a dissent, reversed.  The Curt held that “…when a PCR applicant seeks relief on the basis of newly discovered evidence following a guilty plea, relief is appropriate only where the applicant presents evidence showing that (1) the newly discovered evidence was discovered after the entry of the pleas and, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered prior to the entry of the plea; and (2) the newly discovered evidence is of such a weight and quality that, under the facts and circumstances of that particular case, the ‘interest of justice’ requires the applicant’s guilty plea to be vacated.”

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South Carolina Court of Appeals Decision

scctappealsIn Moorhead Construction, Inc. v. Enterprise Bank, the South Carolina Court of Appeals vacated the master’s award of money damages against Enterprise and remanded to the master.

Moorhead was hired as the general contractor for a real estate project, involving three plots of land, that was planned by Pendleton Station.  The project developments were financed for Pendleton by Enterprise Bank.  Pendleton eventually defaulted on its loan to Enterprise and executed a deed to the properties to Enterprise.  Left unpaid, Moorhead then sued Pendleton for breach of contract and Enterprise for foreclosure.

A master entered money judgments for Moorhead against Enterprise.  Enterprise appealed, arguing that the master had no authority to enter a money judgment against it.  Citing S.C. Code of Laws Section 29-5-10 to 29-5-440, the Court of Appeals held that the procedures for following the enforcement of a mechanic’s lien “must be strictly followed.”  It held that Enterprise “cannot be liable for money judgments because the Respondents had no contractual relationship with Enterprise Bank….”  The Court held that the “exclusive remedy available” to Moorhead was the foreclosure of its mechanic’s lien.  Thus the Court found that the “master erred in award judgments on the Respondent’s foreclosure claims.”

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casetextDeveloped by law school graduates from  Stanford, UC Hastings College, and Yale in conjunction with engineers and mathematicians, CaseText provides its users with legal research materials, legal knowledge, current awareness, and connections.  According to its creators, CaseText was designed to achieve three goals:  “The law should be free to access and understandable to all.  Lawyers, academics, and policy professionals should benefit from the collective knowledge of the legal community.  The way lawyers currently conduct legal research is far less effective, collaborative, and reliable than it could and should be.”

Primary sources available to be searched, via a google type tool bar, include all decisions from the United States Supreme Court, decisions from federal circuit courts from 1920 onwards, decisions from federal district courts between 1950-2012, the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and selected supreme court decisions from the states of California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas.  Search results can be ranked by date, relevance or citation count.  Results can be filtered by jurisdiction or topic.  Focusing via additional keywords is also available.  Quick facts are located on the right hand side of the screen.  Attorneys can also annotated the cases or codes with blog postings.

Forty-two communities, ranging from Tax Law to Legal Research, have been created that researchers can follow.  Updates and analysis by attorneys can be found in these communities.  Researchers can add their own comments via blog posts.

Lastly content from the communities is pushed directly into researchers’ mailboxes.

Check it out here.

Hat Tip:  Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites

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clearviewsocialClearViewSocial, an app designed by attorney Adrian Dayton, to get lawyers sharing online, was unveiled last Thursday at the Legal Marketing Technology Conference  West.  According to the ClearViewSocial site, the app is designed to allow law firm marketers to email firm attorneys with content that can then be shared with the click of a button on attorneys’ social network sites, such as LinkedIn.  A brief video describes the app as a tool to engage clients and start conversations.  Dayton’s theory is that law firms produce massive amounts of content that attorneys do not share with their social networking sites because of time.  This app allows marketers to push content to attorneys who can then share the content on their LinkedIn sites.  Previously Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites was very critical of the app but a recent review “softened” Ambrogi’s objections.  Check out ClearViewSocial here.

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Congratulations to Deborah McGovern & Allison Jones

allison_jones (2)

McGovern_Deborah (2)Congratulations to librarians Allison Jones and Deborah McGovern.  Both recently had articles published in South Carolina Libraries.  Deborah’s article, Engaging Your Library Patrons with Facebook, can be found here.    Allison’s article, Plan, Practice, Participate:  Tips for Libraries Considering Implementation of EBSCO Discovery Service, is here.  Please stop by the Reference Desk to congratulate them.

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Professor Derfner & Emergency Application to the United States Supreme Court

DE3504313texasThis morning Charleston School of Law Professor Armand Derfner, along with other colleagues, submitted an Emergency Application to Justice Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and Circuit Justice for the 5th Circuit, on behalf of Veasey-Lulac.  The Application asks the Court to vacate the October 14th order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that stayed the District Court’s permanent injunction of the Texas voter ID law.  The application can be found here.

Hat Tip:  Professor Armand Derfner


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