August 22, 2012 South Caroina Court of Appeals published opinions

State v Vickery

Greenwood police set up a checkpoint t a certain intersection based on citizen complaint about noise and traffic violations. Vickery was stopped at the checkpoint and officers observed methamphetamine in plain sight. Vickery moved to suppress the drugs which the trail court granted on the basis that the state had failed to prove by empirical evidence that the checkpoint needed to be set up where it was. The panel reversed. It held that the state is required to present empirical evidence about the effectiveness of the checkpoint. However, reviewing the United States Supreme Court and state appellate authority, it held that evidence that violations and crimes were discovered can be enough. Here, there were approximately 50 violations and 8 crimes discovered which was sufficient proof. As the need to protect the public from the dangers of unlicensed or impaired drivers is high and a one minute stop when no violations were found is not an undue infringement of liberty, the checkpoint was constitutional and the evidence should be admitted.

State v Lee

Lee was convicted of several felonies relating to sexual abuse of a minor. At trial, the court allowed two sexually suggestive photos of adults taken several months after the alleged abuse to corroborate the victim’s testimony as tot eh behavior of Lee generally. The panel reversed. It held the photos were of minimal probative value as to the charges and improperly invited the jury to base its verdict on a finding that Lee was a sexually deviate person in general. As the case turned on whether the jury believed Lee or the victim, the error was harmful and a new trial was necessary.

Regions Bank v Strawn

Bank failed to record the satisfaction of an open ended mortgage. The successors in interest sought statutory damages for this failure which the trail court granted. The panel, 2-1, affirmed. The majority held testimony that an employee of the closing attorney hand delivered a written request to record the satisfaction was sufficient to demonstrate that bank received a request and failed to record eh satisfaction. It further held that there are no special rules for open ended mortgages, that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the judgment and that the capacity of the closing attorney to record the satisfaction did not excuse bank’s failure to record. The dissent argued that the record mortgagor never made a request s the letter of instructions identified the former wife of Strawn who was not a recorded mortgagor.

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