Check out these articles on diversity & the legal profession

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1)  Law Is the Least Diverse Profession in the Nation.  And Lawyers Aren’t Doing Enough to Change That from the Washington Post

2)  Lawyer Demographics from the American Bar Association

3)  Diversity in the Legal Profession:  Perspectives from Managing Partners & General Counsel from the Fordham Law Review

4)  Men and Women of the Bar:  The Impact of Gender on Legal Careers from Mauer School of Law Indiana University Digital Repository

5)  Partners in Study Gave Legal Memo a Lower Rating When Told the Author Wasn’t White from the ABA Journal

6)  The Double Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership:  Damned if You Do, Doomed If You Don’t from Catalyst

7)  Diversity in the Legal Profession:  The Next Steps from the American Bar Association

8)  Pipeline’s Broken Promise from Catalyst

9)  Most Lawyers Working Part Time Are Women from NALP

10)  Diversity in Law Firms from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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Today’s Decision for the South Carolina Supreme Court

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

In State v. Bruce, Roger Bruce was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend, Laura Creel. Creel had disappeared and left behind her cellphone, car, and pet at Bruce’s home.  Creel’s son, Ritch contacted the police out of concern since Creel never went anywhere without her dog, phone, or car.  The police arrived to Bruce’s home to perform a welfare check on Creel.  After Bruce permitted the officers to enter the apartment, they retrieved Creel’s car keys and entered the trunk of Creel’s vehicle, discovering Creel’s body. Bruce was subsequently arrested and tried for the murder of Creel.

At trial, Bruce objected to the discovery of the body on the basis that there was no consent and no search warrant obtained. The solicitor argued that Bruce had no expectation of privacy because it was Creel’s car. Ultimately, the court denied the motion to suppress, finding that the discovery of Creel’s body was inevitable.  Bruce was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On appeal, Bruce argued that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress because Bruce never consent to the officers removing the keys from his home. The court of appeals reversed finding the record was insufficient for appellate review and remanded with instructions to consider whether Bruce had an expectation of privacy in the trunk of Creel’s car and to apply the harmless error analysis if the trial court found that the evidence was admitted in error.

This Court reverses the court of appeals’ opinion in State v. Bruce, 402 S.C. 621, 741 S.E.2d 590 (Ct. App. 2013), finding the trial court did not err in denying Bruce’s motion to suppress because there was no violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. This Court found that the officers’ seizure of Creel’s car keys from inside Bruce’s home was reasonably encompassed within his consent to enter the home and search for Creel. “Bruce was aware that the officers were seeking to determine Creel’s whereabouts when they requested entry to his home. It is undisputed that Bruce then allowed them in his home. A reasonable person would have understood that this search may extend to looking in her car, which was parked outside, for any additional insight into where she may have gone or what could have happened to her.”  The Court also stated that it was improper for the court of appeals to instruct the lower court to perform a harmless error analysis on its own evidentiary rulings. This Court notes that the harmless error analysis is an appellate doctrine and a responsibility of the appellate court.  Accordingly, the Court reverses the court of appeals’ decision and affirms Bruce’s conviction.

Justice Pleicones concurred in part and dissented in part in a separate opinion.

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Library & IT Services Available for May 2015 Graduates

may2015grads Congratulations to all of you!  Graduation was a milestone.  Now you are beginning to prepare for another milestone:  the bar exam.  There are resources available from the library to help you.

As you prepare for the bar exam this summer, here is some information.  Remember to check out the library’s information resource guides on the bar exam and job hunting! Don’t forget that the library has two iPads with Bar Max loaded on them. Please stop by the Reference Desk to check these out. They have practice multiple choice questions. You can also browse bar review materials in this office.

South Carolina Advance Sheets are available in print in Row 39A or adjacent to the Circulation Desk; they are available in electronic format too.

You will continue to have access to the library, until the end of the July bar exam, with your SONITROL card. You will be able to use the library’s study rooms, check out materials, and print through the end of July.

Summer library hours are posted here and are as usual. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th, the library will be open, as a study hall only, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for Memorial Day.  It will be closed on  Saturday, July 4, 2015, for the celebration of Independence Day.

Bar prep class videos from Spring 2015 can be here.

Again, congratulations, and study hard for the next two months.  Good luck!

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Library Hours on Memorial Day

memorialday2015 The Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  It will be a study hall only, staffed by Security.

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Welcome Library Reference Assistants

index_photoEach year, the library hires 3L students to be library reference assistants.  This job includes working the Reference Desk and drafting research guides to use the library’s resources.  This year Shaniqua Butler, Rachel Whitman, QueAndra Campbell, and Lauren Pearson will be the library’s Reference Assistants for the 2015-2016 academic year.  Please join us in welcoming them.

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Decisions from the South Carolina Supreme Court for May 13, 2015

sc-supreme-courtToday, the South Carolina Supreme Court published four opinions: In the Matter of Max SingletonCentennial Casualty v. Western Surety Co., In the Matter of Kay Paschal, and In the Matter of Douglas Francis Gay.

 In the Matter of Max Singleton, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law in this state for nine months.

In Centennial Casualty v. Western Surety Co., the Court grants certiorari, reversed and remanded this case to the court of appeals.

A3 Auto Center (“A3″) sought to purchase three automobiles from other car dealerships (“Sellers”) and used Charleston Auto to facilitate the sale. All dealers and wholesalers are required to obtain a surety bond as indemnification for loss or damage suffered by an owner of a motor vehicle, or his legal representative under the Dealer Bond Statute. (S.C. Code Section 56-15-320(B) ) A3 obtained a surety bond from CNA Surety.

Charleston Auto located the three vehicles and arranged the sales. The bills of sale contained language appointing Charleston Auto as the agent and legal representative of both A3 and the Sellers. A3 paid Charleston Auto for the vehicles with three checks, which were eventually returned for insufficient funds. Charleston Auto sought reimbursement from its insurance carrier, Centennial Casualty Co. (“Petitioner”). Petitioner paid Charleston Auto’s claim and demanded reimbursement from CNA Surety (“CNA”) pursuant to A3’s surety bond. CNA refused to pay arguing that the Dealer Bond Statute did not apply to the transaction because neither Petitioner nor Charleston Auto was a “legal representative” who suffered a loss or damage. Petitioner filed suit against CNA, and the trial court found that Petitioner was entitled to reimbursement from CNA. The court of appeals reversed finding that Charleston Auto/Petitioner were not legal representatives in the transaction. This Court reversed the court of appeals decision finding the plain language of the statute is satisfied and thus Charleston Auto, as the legal representative, is entitled to bring an action on A3’s surety bond.

In the Matter of Kay Paschal, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law for a period of three years.

In the Matter of Douglas Francis Gay, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law in this state for three years.

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Today’s Decisions from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

sccourtofappeals The South Carolina Court of Appeals published decisions in Smith v. State and Gonzales v. State.

In Smith v. State, Orlando Smith appealed the circuit court’s application of the seven-year time limit for post-conviction DNA testing for defendants who plead guilty or no contest. Smith argues that he plead not guilty and the statute has no time limit for those defendants.

Pursuant to SC Code Section 17-28-30 (B), “A person who plead guilty or nolo contendere to at least one of the offenses enumerated in subsection (A), was subsequently convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for the offense, is currently incarcerated for the offense, and asserts he is innocent of the offense may apply for forensic DNA testing of his DNA and any physical evidence or biological material related to his conviction or adjudication no later than seven years from the date of sentencing.”

The circuit court denied Smith’s application for PCR, concluding that the Application was time barred by section 17-28-30(B).  Smith, on appeal, maintained his argument that due to his pleading of not guilty only subsection A applied to him and it did not include a limitations period.

This Court agreed with Smith finding that the circuit court erred in omitting the phrase “who plead guilty or no contest” in its recitation of subsection B and its finding that it applied to defendants who plead not guilty. The statute, when read in full, is interpreted as applying seven-year limits only to those who plead guilty or no contest. Accordingly, the Court reversed the circuit court’s decision and remanded the case for the court to consider Smith’s application.

Gonzales v. State was a post-conviction relief (PCR) action. Gonzales argued that the PCR Court erred in finding trial counsel was not ineffective for continuing to represent him despite a conflict of interest.

Gonzales testified that Dina Perez, who was like a father figure to him, introduced him to the drug business. He stated that he was arrested while delivering narcotics to Perez, and that Perez and his mother paid trial counsel to represent him. Shortly after Perez was arrested he retained the same trial counsel to represent him. Gonzales stated that after Perez’s arrest, he asked trial counsel if anything could be done to negotiate a better deal because he had information to use against Perez. Gonzales stated trial counsel responded, “he couldn’t hear this.”

Gonzales testified that he would have fully cooperated with state and federal authorities if trial counsel had informed him that he might be able to get a good deal for himself.  He asserted that he would have wanted a different lawyer had trial counsel indicated there could be a conflict representing both  him and Perez. The PCR court found Gonzales failed to prove trial counsel had a conflict of interest during Gonzales’s trial because none of the parties informed trial counsel that the two cases were related and that both defendants were involved in each other’s charges. Additionally the PCR court found trial counsel to be credible and Gonzales to not be credible.

This Court recognized the existence of a potential conflict, but  found that Gonzales had not shown the conflict of interest adversely affected counsel’s performance due to the PCR court’s credibility findings of the trial counsel. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the PCR courts denial of PCR.

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