The South Carolina Court of Appeals published two opinions:
In State v. Thompson, Appellants’ appealed joint convictions of homicide by child abuse (HCA) and unlawful conduct toward a child, the S.C. Court of Appeals affirmed Appellants’ convictions. Appellants raised three issues on appeal: 1.) Was there substantial circumstantial evidence of Mother’s guilt to justify the trial court’s denial of her directed verdict motion? 2). Was there substantial circumstantial evidence of Father’s guilt to justify the trial court’s denial of his directed verdict motion? 3. )Did the admission of photographs of Victim’s body taken at the crime scene and during his autopsy violate Rule 403, SCRE, due to their probative value being substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice?
The Court: (1) affirmed the denial of Appellants’ respective directed verdict motions on the HCA charge because the State’s evidence was sufficient to allow a reasonable juror to find Appellants guilty of HCA beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) affirmed the denial of Appellants’ directed verdict motions on the unlawful conduct charge because the evidence was more than sufficient to show Appellants neglected Victim’s needs, placing him “at unreasonable risk of harm” affecting his health; and maliciously inflicted “bodily harm” on Victim so that his health and life were “endangered”; and (3) affirmed the trial court’s admission of the challenged photographs pursuant to Rule 403 because the photographs, while graphic, were necessary to help the jury fully understand that doctor’s testimony regarding the nature of Victim’s injuries resulting in his death. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Appellants’ respective convictions for HCA and unlawful conduct toward a child.
In SC Public Interest Foundation v. Courson, SC Public Interest appealed the circuit court’s order denying SC Public Intere’s motion for attorney fees and costs, arguing S.C. Code Section 15-77-300 applies to Senators John Courson, Darrell Jackson, Joel Lourie, and John L. Scott (the Senators).
The Court held that the circuit court properly denied SC Public Interest’s motion for attorney’s fees because South Carolina recognizes the longstanding doctrine of legislative immunity for legislators carrying out their legislative duties. Nothing in the plain language of state action statute indicates the General Assembly intended to waive legislative immunity; therefore, legislative immunity prevents the statute from applying to Senators.