Today’s Decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court

sc-supreme-court

Today, the South Carolina Supreme Court published a decision in Workman v. State.

In Workman v. State, the Court reversed the post-conviction relief (PCR) judge’s order and granted petitioner relief.

Petitioner Workman was convicted of assault and battery, conspiracy, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime,and armed robbery in a joint trial. Petitioner filed an application for PCR alleging trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to a coercive Allen charge and in failing to challenge the trial judge’s ruling barring cross-examination of the State’s witness regarding the sentencing recommendation Wright received in exchange for testifying. The PCR judge denied Petitioner’s application.

This Court looked to both issues: (1) Whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the Allen charge?, and (2) Whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the rule barring cross-examination regarding Wright’s sentence.

The Court looked to the four factors previously adopted in Tucker to determine whether the Allen charge was unconstituitonally coercive.

The Court found that the petitioner was prejudiced by trial counsel’s failure to object to the unconstitutionally coercive Allen charge given at his criminal trial. Therefore, the Court reversed the PCR judge’s denial of relief, and remanded for a new trial.

The court did not address the remaining issue because the petitioner’s relief was granted on the first issue presented.

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