June 19, 2013 South Carolina Supreme Court published opinions

State v Miller

Miller pled guilty to child sex abuse. His probation began while he was held pursuant to a violent sexual person complaint. He was adjudged sexually violent and committed to treatment. His probation officer filed a motion to toll Miller’s probation which the trial judge granted. The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court reversed. It held that probation is governed by statute, South Carolina Code 24-21-410 and 440 allow for suspension of probation and precedent recognizes the power of the circuit court to toll probation for fault based acts by the probationer like absconding from the jurisdiction. However, treatment in the sexually violent person program is not a fault based act by Miller but a civil commitment which does not trigger tolling. It is up to the legislature to change the law if it desires probation to be tolled during sexually violent person commitments.

Taylor v State

Taylor pled guilty to child sexual abuse in one county then was convicted of additional child sexual abuse counts in another county and sentenced to life without parole. He sought post-conviction relief arguing his plea counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him of the effects of his plea on sentencing in his second case and field to investigate the second case. The circuit court denied his petition. The Court, with two justices concurring ion result only, affirmed. As to the effects of the guilty plea, the Court held that Taylor suffered no prejudice as he expected to be exonerated in the second case, was offered a plea deal which would have avoided the life sentence and he pled guilty in response to recorded confessions not the failure to advise on the effects of his plea. As to the investigation, the Court held that the record contained evidence which supported the circuit court’s ruling as Taylor was aware of the dates of the alleged incidents, he engaged in an extensive colloquy with the plea judge, never raised the factual issue with his attorney he now claims would have exonerated him and did not provide an alibi for the whole period when the crime was alleged to occur.

Crawford v Central Mortgage Company; Warrington v Bank of South Carolina

Crawford and Warrington defaulted on mortgage loans, obtained loan modifications which were not supervised by and attorney, were sued for foreclosure and petitioned the Court for a declaration the loan modifications were unauthorized practice of law. The Court, with one justice concurring ion result only, held that loan modifications are not the practice of law because the policy of protecting the public which justifies the requirement of attorney participation in the financing and refinancing context is absent from the modification context and imposing the requirement would impose costs exceeding the benfits Additionally, modifications are heavily regulated and handled by competent non attorneys.

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