Decisions on 10/8/2014 from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

scctappealsOn Wednesday, October 8th, the South Carolina Court of Appeals handed down two opinions:  Duke Energy Corp. v. South Carolina Department of Revenue and State v. Pearson.

In Duke Energy, Duke appealed an Administrative Law Court’s partial summary judgment issued to the Department of Revenue.

Duke filed South Carolina taxes between 1978-2001 as a business entity, doing business in both South and North Carolina.  Taxpayers conducting business in South Carolina and another state owe tax to the South Carolina Department of Revenue via one of two formulas determined according to S.C. Code of Laws Section 12-6-2252 (manufacturing) or S.C. Code of Laws Section 12-6-2290 (sales.)

In 2002, Duke filed amended returns for the years of 1978-2001, requesting a $126,240,645. refund.  The South Carolina Department of Revenue denied the refund request in February of 2010.  Duke then appealed the Department’s denial to an Administrative Law Court.  This court faced three issues:  “(1) whether Duke Energy’s refund claims were timely, (2) which apportionment formula Duke Energy was required to use…and (3) whether Duke Energy could include in the denominator of the applicable formula its gross receipts from sales of certain short-term investments….”  The court found that Duke had to use the manufacturing formula and could not include gross receipts in the denominator of the applicable apportionment formula.  The court also concluded that Duke’s refund claims for 1978-1993 were untimely.

Duke appealed but the Court of Appeals upheld the Administrative Law Court’s ruling that Duke must use the manufacturing formula and could not include gross receipts in the formula’s denominator.  It found it unnecessary to reach the issue of timeliness of Duke’s refund claims.

State v. Pearson involved an appeal by Pearson of his conviction for first degree burglary, armed robbery, grand larceny, kidnapping and possession of a weapon.  Pearson was arrested because a fingerprint of his happened to be found on the back of the victim’s car.  This was the only evidence introduced by the State to tie Pearson to the crime.  Pearson then asked the trial court for a directed verdict, arguing that “…the circumstantial evidence presented by the State did not rise to the level of substantial circumstantial evidence necessary to submit the case to the jury.”

The Court of Appeals agreed with Pearson, citing the standard as “[a] defendant is entitled to a directed verdict when the State failed to produce evidence of the offense challenged.”  The Court reversed, concluding that “[v]iewing all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, there was insufficient evidence to submit the case to the jury.  The recovered fingerprint directly tied Pearson to the stolen vehicle….[t]he fingerprint merely raised a suspicion of Pearson’s guilt because there was no additional evidence showing when the fingerprint was placed on the vehicle….[N]one of the other evidence presented by the State placed Pearson at the crime scene….For this reason, the jury could only have guessed Pearson was involved in the crimes.”

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Lisa is the Associate Dean for Information Services at the Charleston School of Law, Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library. She teaches Advanced Legal Research & Children & the Law.
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