July 2 2014 South Carolina Supreme Court published opinions

State v Wessinger

The trail court found that Wessinger’s indecent exposure convictions were violent offenses for purposes of the sex offender civil commitment statute without holding a hearing with opportunity to cross examine witnesses. The Court affirmed holding that on the facts of this case, no hearing was needed as Wessinger admitted under oath the underlying conduct, stated he needed help and was already on the sex offender registry.

State v Burgess

Burgess challenged his drug conviction arguing his arrest was illegal as the arresting officer was unauthorized to arrest outside city limits and also challenged restrictions on cross examining the officer. The Court of Appeals affirmed and the Court, with one justice concurring in result only, affirmed as modified. The majority held tae arrest was illegal as the municipality which employed the officer did not strictly comply with the relevant statutes when entering into multijusidicitional agreements for enforcing drug laws because the city council did not authorize or approve the agreement and the power to enter agreements cannot be delegated. The conviction was affirmed as state agents who were authorized to arrest played an integral part in the arrest and actually found the drugs which formed the basis for the conviction. The majority also affirmed the limits on cross examination as the incidents which Burgess wanted to bring up occurred after the arrest and were directed at coworkers, not subjects of investigation.

Crossland v Crossland

The Court of Appeals reversed the alimony award to wife, reduced her share of the property division and remanded for a recalculation of her attorney fee award. The Court reversed. It held that the family court did not abuse its discretion when it chose to not impute social security benefits which wife would apply for after the divorce was final as family courts may, but are not required, to impute future benefits as income and in any event the focus on the good faith or bad faith of the party and here there was no bad faith by wife and no evidence of what the future benefits would be. The Court reversed as to the property division holding that because husband was the sole provider, the parties equally contributed to savings through frugal living and husband hid assets throughout the marriage, the original property division was reasonable and the Court of Appeals erred by looking solely at the direct contributions of the parties. As the alimony and property division had been restored, the attorney fee award was also restored.

State v Reid

Reid moved to suppress a statement made after he was appointed counsel and for a directed verdict on a weapons charge. The circuit court denied both motions and Reid was convicted of assault and other charges arising from an armed robbery with several victims. The Court affirmed. It held that under current United States Supreme Court precedent, the statement was admissible as Reid was informed that he could have his attorney present during questioning and he waived that right before speaking. Thus, there was no 6th Amendment violation. The court affirmed the denial of the directed verdict motion as Reid aided and abetted the use of the rifle here as he set up the robberies, knew the rifle would be used and served as a getaway driver

State v Nation

Nation challenged his lifetime GPS monitoring for violating his sex offense probation. The Court, 3-2, affirmed. The majority held that all of Nation’s constitutional challenges were foreclosed by recent South Carolina Supreme Court precedent and there was no reason to overturn those precedents. The majority also noted Nation is entitled to periodic judicial review of the monitoring program. The dissent argued that lifetime monitoring violates substantive due process and the case should have been remanded.

In the Matter of Kenneth B. Massey

Massey agreed to discipline based on the filing of an affidavit in a divorce action which materially misrepresented the custody of the parties’ child. The Court publicly reprimanded Massey and ordered him to the costs of the investigation and pass the Bar’s ethics course.

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