On October 19th, 2016, the Court published Earley v. State. In this appeal for post-conviction relief (PCR), the Court reversed relief granted to Respondent by the PCR court. The Court held that the PCR court committed an error of law in finding the outcome of Respondent’s trial would have been different had trial counsel moved for a mistrial based on the State’s failure to disclose Respondent’s Facebook posting prior to trial. Accordingly, the Court reversed the PCR court’s order and reinstated Respondent’s conviction and sentence for solicitation of a minor. The Court found that absent a showing of prejudice, it was error to grant relief.
Chief Justice Pleicones dissented in a separate opinion here.
On October 12th, the Court published two opinions:
In Hilton v. Flakeboard America Limited, the Court reviewed an order of the Court of Appeals dismissing Petitioner Thomas Hilton’s appeal of an admittedly interlocutory order of the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission’s Appellate Panel. The Court found that under these unique circumstances where the Commission ordered the relitigation of the entire dispute without regard to the matters raised by the appealing party, requiring Hilton to wait until the final agency decision to appeal would not provide him an adequate remedy. The Court noted that, if under the circumstances presented, the Commission’s order was allowed to stand, a party could face the possibility of repeated unexplained “do overs” before a final decision of the Commission. The Court further cautioned that “circumstances such as these that will permit the immediate appeal of an interlocutory administrative decision under section 1-23- 380(A) ‘are about as rare as the proverbial hens’ teeth. Accordingly, the Court vacated the order and remanded the matter to the Commission.
Justices Kittredge and Hearn concurred in a separate opinion.
In State v. Hunsberger, Petitioner Hunsberger appealed his murder conviction arguing that his motion for a speedy trial was wrongly denied. The Court of Appeals affirmed. This Court held that the appellate court erred in affirming the trial court’s ruling that Petitioner’s right to a speedy trial was not violated. The Court found no evidence that the issues resulting from the prosecution in Georgia justified the lengthy delay of the South Carolina trial. Additionally, the Court held that the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s failure to consider presumptive prejudice in this case. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals.
Justices Toal and Kittredge dissented in a separate opinion.