Today’s Decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court

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Today, the South Carolina Supreme Court published a decision in Workman v. State.

In Workman v. State, the Court reversed the post-conviction relief (PCR) judge’s order and granted petitioner relief.

Petitioner Workman was convicted of assault and battery, conspiracy, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime,and armed robbery in a joint trial. Petitioner filed an application for PCR alleging trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to a coercive Allen charge and in failing to challenge the trial judge’s ruling barring cross-examination of the State’s witness regarding the sentencing recommendation Wright received in exchange for testifying. The PCR judge denied Petitioner’s application.

This Court looked to both issues: (1) Whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the Allen charge?, and (2) Whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the rule barring cross-examination regarding Wright’s sentence.

The Court looked to the four factors previously adopted in Tucker to determine whether the Allen charge was unconstituitonally coercive.

The Court found that the petitioner was prejudiced by trial counsel’s failure to object to the unconstitutionally coercive Allen charge given at his criminal trial. Therefore, the Court reversed the PCR judge’s denial of relief, and remanded for a new trial.

The court did not address the remaining issue because the petitioner’s relief was granted on the first issue presented.

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Today’s Decision from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

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Today, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published one opinion:  Harold v. Watson’s Orchard Property Owners Association was an appeal from the circuit court. Appellants Pelham Farm, LLC, One, LLC and an unknown trustee of the revocable trust agreement established by James B. Stephens, and Jay Stephens and Mike Stephens, as co-personal representatives of the estate of James B. Stephens contend the circuit court erred in finding their amendment to the Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants that governed the development of property in Greenville County, South Carolina, was invalid for lack of a majority vote.

The Court of appeals affirms the circuit court, finding the plain and ordinary language of the Restrictions and Covenants requires the lots at issue to be developed prior to entitling the owner a vote to amend the Restrictions and Covenants. Because the lots were not developed, the Court of appeals held Appellants’ votes were invalid and the amended Restrictions and Covenants were not enforceable.

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Tax Forms for the Procrastinators!

tax2 Tomorrow, April 15th, is tax day.  For federal taxes, either your 1040 or 1040EZ is due or a request for an extension to file, Form 4468, is needed.  If your taxes are cumbersome and require lots of forms, you can locate federal forms, by title, revision date, or product number, hereInstructions are also available as is help via an Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA.)  Tax tables and computation worksheets are available here.

Individual South Carolina tax information and forms can be found here on the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s tax site.  The SC1040 is here while the SC4868, Request to File an Extension, can be found here.

Need a tax form from another state?  If so, check out the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA) map of the USA and click on the appropriate state.  Hyper-linked forms  for the state then appear.

Happy tax prep!  Yes I too am a procrastinator which is why I’m blogging about tax forms today.

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Library Hours During Exams & Exam Breaks

people_studyingClasses end on Friday, April 24th.   Before shouting “hurrah,” do remember that exams then loom.  The library will begin extended hours for exams, starting Saturday, April 25thHours will be 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. nightly until Saturday, May 9th.  On the 9th, the library opens at 7:00 a.m. but will close at 5:00 p.m.  Regular operating hours resume on Sunday, May 10th.

As part of the Exam Breaks sponsored by Student Affairs, the library will provide pizza at noon and again at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29th, and again on Wednesday, May 6th in the Barrister.

Good luck on exams!

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Celebrate National Library Week

nlw2015 Please join us in celebrating National Library Week

As part of our celebration, we asked all of you to give us the title of your favorite book. Many thanks to everyone who submitted a title or two.  Your choices are now showcased in the exhibit case adjacent to the east Barrister entry.  Please stop by and take a look.  We’ll match the names and the titles on Friday but enjoy guessing and matching until then.

As part of our celebration, Lexis has generously donated 3 electronic study guides.   Share the name of your favorite book at the Circulation Desk.  We’ll then pull three names from this pile on Friday, April 17th, at noon in the Barrister.  We’ll also have cake, fruit and cookies so please stop by and join us.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Today’s Decision from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

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Today the South Carolina Court of Appeals published a decision in Brown v. Brown. Brown v. Brown is an appeal of the family court’s final divorce decree between George and Julie Brown. George Brown (Husband) argues the family court improperly (1) divided the martial estate given the short duration of Husband and Julie Brown’s (Wife) marriage, (2) awarded custody of the parties’ minor children to Wife, and (3) ordered Husband to pay a portion of Wife’s attorney’s fees and guardian ad litem (GAL) fees.

Husband and Wife were married for eight years, mostly living long distance due to Husband’s military service and out of state government contract jobs. During the marriage, Husband and Wife had four children that resided primarily with Wife.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the family courts order. The Court found that there was an equitable distribution of the martial property, pursuant to the factors of §  20-3-620 of the S.C. Code As well, the Court agreed that there was no evidence that Husband questioned Wife’s abilities to care for their children while he was out of state. While not outcome determinative, the Court noted that Wife had been the children’s primary caretaker for the entirety of their lives, and that awarding Husband primary custody would require the children to move, which was found not to be in the children’s best interests. Therefore, the Court affirmed the family court’s custody determination.

Finally, in determining the reasonableness of attorney’s fees, the Court looked to six factors: (1) the nature, extent, and difficulty of the case; (2) the time necessarily devoted to the case; (3) professional standing of counsel; (4) contingency of compensation; (5) beneficial results obtained; and (6) customary legal fees for similar services. Applying those factors, the Court determined the family court properly ordered the Husband to pay a portion of Wife’s attorney’s fees and the remaining GAL fee balance finding that Husband had failed to show proof of prejudice in the family court’s division of these fees.

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Articles Worth Reading

articles worth reading  Check out:

5 Tips for Surviving a Massive Legal Blunder from Law 360

5 Ways Associates Can Ramp Up Their Marketing from Law 360

ABA Offering Free Memberships to Law Students from NLJ

Class Action Mooting Meets Twombly and Iqbal from Law 360

Firms of the Future Must Orbit Around the Client from the ABA Journal

In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive from the NYT

Morning Wrap:  Officer Charged in South Carolina Shooting from NLJ

The 7 Attributes of Highly Effective Curated Posts from Scoop It!

The Law Firm Growth Manual from Rocket Matter.

Happy reading!

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