Decisions by the South Carolina Supreme Court

On October 29th, the South Carolina Supreme Court handed down five decisions. In Bordeaux v. State, the Court granted certiorari in a post-conviction relief action to review  whether the Court of Appeals’ erred in remanding for reconsideration of the legality of Bordeaux’s convictions and sentences for first degree burglary.

Bordeaux pleaded guilty to first degree burglary. Pursuant to his negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to a term of twenty-five years, provided that upon the service of twenty years the balance is suspended and he is placed on three years probation. However, the sentencing sheets indicated that Bordeaux pleaded guilty to  second degree burglary that has a maximum of fifteen years.

Bordeaux sought relief from his sentence claiming that it was illegal since the twenty-five year sentence exceeded the maximum allowed for a second degree burglary conviction.  The PCR judge granted a new trial recognizing that the sentencing sheets definitely took precedent over the unambiguous plea transcript.

The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the Court of Appeals’ decision. The Court agreed that “the PCR judge committed an error of law in ruling the ambiguous sentencing sheets took precedence over the unambiguous plea transcript. However, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision to remand finding “as a matter of law that Bordeaux pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree burglary and was properly sentenced . . . pursuant to his negotiated plea.

In South Carolina Property and Casualty Ins. v. Brock et al., the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the Court of Appeals’ decision. The issue was solely one of statutory interpretation of the South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association Act (S.C. Code Ann. Sec. 38-31-10 to 170 ).

The case arose when Brock sustained injuries in an accident with a logging truck insured by Aequicap Insurance Company. Prior to Brock receiving payment for his injuries, Aequicap was declared insolvent and the claim was referred to Guaranty. The trial court allowed Guaranty to offset the payments made by solvent insurers to Brock pursuant to section 38-31-100 (1). The circuit court reversed finding that 38-31-100(1) was ambiguous, but did allow offset of the uninsured motorist (UM) and personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. The Supreme Court held that section 38-31-100 was unambiguous, reversing the lower court’s holding, and provided that Guaranty may offset all payments from all solvent insurers made to Brock as a result of this wreck.

In the Matter of Nathan Jardine, the Court disciplined Attorney Jardine for violating Rule 7, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, SCACR, and Rule 418, SCACR. Respondent was permanently debarred from seeking any form of admission to practice law in this state (including pro hac vice admission) without first obtaining an order from this Court allowing him to seek admission. Further, Respondent was prohibited from advertising or soliciting business in South Carolina without first obtaining an order from the Court.

Fabian v. Lindsay, was a cause of action, in tort and contract, by a third-party beneficiary of an existing will or estate planning document against a lawyer whose drafting error defeats or diminishes the client’s intent.  The Court held that “Recovery under either cause of action is limited to persons who are named in the estate planning document or otherwise identified in the instrument by their status. Whether the claim sounds in both tort and contract, the plaintiff may elect a recovery.” The Court reversed the order dismissing Appellant’s complaint and remanded the matter to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

In State v. Heller, the Court reviewed the Court of Appeals’ decisions in State v. Heller, 399 S.C. 157 and dismissed the writ as improvidently granted.

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