South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions for April 22, 2015

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On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court published four opinions: State v. McDonald, Rhame v. Charleston County School District, State v. Odom, and In the Matter of William Joseph Cutchin.

In State v. McDonald, Petitioner Derrick McDonald along with two codefendants were convicted of murder and first degree burglary. McDonald appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the conviction finding that his Confrontation Clause rights were not violated when the trial court admitted the redacted confession of one of his nontestifying codefendants.  This Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals decision.

During the trial, the State used statements made by the codefendant’s substituting  McDonald’s name with the phraseanother person”. The Court found that the court of appeals erred, reasoning that the jury would readily infer from the face of the codefendant’s statements that it referred to and incriminated McDonald. Nevertheless, the Court affirmed McDonald’s conviction, finding the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt. 

In Rhame v. Charleston County School District, the Court was presented with the issue of whether an Appellate Panel of the Workers’ Compensation Commission has the authority to entertain motions for rehearing.  The Court found that an Appellate Panel of the Commission, on reverse of a single commissioner’s decision, has such authority. Thus, the Court reversed the court of appeals’ dismissal of Petitioner’s appeal and remands for a decision consistent with this opinion.

State v. Odom was a direct appeal, the Court found that the trial court erred in taking judicial notice of an element of the charged offense. However, the Court finds that the error is harmless and affirms Appellant’s conviction for criminal solicitation of a minor and sentence.

In the Matter of William Joseph Cutchin, was an opinion disbarring an attorney finding violations of the following Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 407, SCACR, Rule 1.1, Rule 1.2, Rule 1.3, Rule 1.4, Rule 1.5, Rule 1.15, Rule 1.16, Rule 1.17, Rule 3.2, Rule 5.3, Rule 8.1(b), Rule 8.4(b), Rule 8.4 (d), Rule 8.4 (e). Respondent was also found to have violated Rule 402(k)(3) and Rule 417, SCACR.

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