April 10, 2013 South Carolina Court of Appeals published opinions

Walker v Brooks

Brooks received two deeds from her brother (Walker’s father) due to financial support she provided to him. Walker and his father exercised control over the properties. A spate document indicated that brother owed $60,000.00 to Brooks and once that was paid of the properties would be deeded back to brother. After brother died, Brooks effused to deed the property to walker and his siblings. Walker sued for title. The special referee ruled that the deeds and other circumstances created an equitable mortgage, but, did not pass title to Brooks. The panel reversed. Applying the seven relevant criteria for equitable mortgages, the panel held that there was evidence of existing debt; that deeds and the debt agreement were not executed within a reasonable time frame; that there were no previous negotiations between Brooks and her brother indicating the deeds were not a transfer of title; that the sibling relationship negated the relevance of the inadequate consideration; the ongoing relationship was not business related and was thus not evidence sustaining an equitable mortgage instead of a transfer of title; that the deeds and the debt documentation did not give rise to an inference of equitable mortgage; and that the evidence rebutted Walker’s claim that the deeds were an equitable mortgage instead of a title transfer.

Regions Bank v. Owens

Bank sued to foreclose on a mortgage and note that Owens was a borrower on. He was personally served. He believed that another defendant was gonging to have an attorney answer on behalf of Owens and thus did not file an answer. An order of default was entered which Owens moved to set aside. The trial court found he did not establish good case and denied the motion. The panel affirmed. It held that Owens failed to prove good cause as he took no steps to protect his interests and, given that negligence of one’s own attorney is not good cause, negligence by another’s attorney is also not good cause.

State v Blakely

Blakely was tried and acquitted of murder. The solicitor then charged her with accessory after the fact and she was convicted on that charge. She argued on appeal that the second charge and trial violated her due process rights. The panel affirmed. It held that accessories after the fact in South Carolina can be tried even when those who commit the underlying felony are acquitted or never charged, accessory after the fat is not a lesser included offense and is a separate offense and thus double jeopardy des nto apply. It held the mere fact of a second charge after an acquittal is not evidence of vindictive prosecution as there was no assertion of a right to appeal or other right and the initial charging decision should not grant de facto immunity from other legitimate charges. It also held that ABA standards do not control due process analysis and the different legal theories presented in the two trials were not inconsistent theories.

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