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Lifetime Registration and Monitoring for Juvenile Sex Offenders

This month the S.C. Supreme Court affirmed the requirement of lifetime sex-offender registration and lifetime electronic monitoring of juveniles who are convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. It’s a horrible case: a 15-year-old boy was accused of forcing oral sex and attempting anal sex with a 5-year-old child. As a consequence, he [..]

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Errors in South Carolina Crime Labs

An audit of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) crime has revealed flawed examinations of gunshot residue samples over a period of a year and a half. The errors were found in 34 shooting cases in 13 different judicial districts and include samples tested in police officer Michael Slager’s North Charleston murder of unarmed [..]

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The Limits of Religious Freedom

A heroin dealer’s claim that his charges for distributing heroin to consenting adults violated his religious freedom was denied by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals week before last. The defendant was sentenced to 27 years in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. Before his trial in St. Louis in 2015, Anderson demanded that the [..]

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Forensic Sciences – Search for Truth or Prosecution Tool?

After a decade or so of progress in identifying and acknowledging the huge problems with forensic science used to obtain convictions in our nation’s courtrooms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month disbanded the nonpartisan National Commission on Forensic Science and announced that the department would no longer review closed cases for inaccurate or unsupported statements [..]

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Horry County Drug Court

The 15th Circuit Drug Court program has been up and running for eight years now. Results? I have seen participants who came out of the program clean and sober. The opportunity to participate in the program has literally saved lives and kept families together. I have also seen participants who could not stay clean, flunked [..]

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The Largest Mass Dismissal of Cases in the History of the United States

Before she crashed and burned, Annie Dookhan was a superhero at the Massachusetts state crime lab. She processed and tested drug samples three times as fast as her colleagues and assisted in obtaining convictions in thousands of cases involving an estimated 40,000 drug samples. An audit performed in 2010 found that she was working unusually [..]

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The Crime of Paper Airplanes . . .

Back in January, a high school student in Andrews, S.C., threw a paper airplane in class that hit his science teacher, Edward McIver, in the eye. McIver then began an investigation, questioning the other students about who had thrown the airplane. He called the school resource officer, reported that he had been struck in the [..]

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Hearsay and the Sixth Amendment: Why the CI Has to Testify

In State v. Davis, the S.C. Court of Appeals re-affirmed that a narcotics officer cannot testify as to a controlled buy made by a confidential informant – it is hearsay and it is a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. The defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to traffic > 100 grams of methamphetamine was [..]

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Curtilage Revisited – Trafficking Weight Cocaine Suppressed

Last December, I wrote about State v. Bash, where the S.C. Supreme Court thankfully re-affirmed that a police officer cannot enter a person’s yard without a warrant or exigent circumstances in order to search for drugs.  The defendant was charged with trafficking in cocaine > 400 grams and trafficking in crack cocaine 10-28 grams.  The [..]

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No Right to Counsel in South Carolina Summary Courts

Of course there is a right to counsel, at least when a person is sentenced to jail time, but it is systematically denied to defendants in our state’s summary courts. Indigent defendants in S.C.’s summary courts typically are not provided with court-appointed counsel, even in serious cases such as DUI or domestic violence (CDV).  In [..]

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