Category: PCR – Post Conviction Relief

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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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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South Carolina’s Unconstitutional Summary Courts

In April of 2016, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report, entitled Summary Injustice: A Look at Constitutional Deficiencies in South Carolina’s Summary Courts, detailing the constitutional deficiencies in South Carolina’s summary courts. In January 2017, they released a follow-up report, entitled Rush to [..]

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PCR and Habeas Corpus in South Carolina

The S.C. Supreme Court held in In Re Chapman this month that persons committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) have a right to effective assistance of counsel.  Although they cannot file a Post Conviction Relief (PCR) action, they can challenge an SVP commitment collaterally through Habeas proceedings. Post Conviction Relief (PCR) South Carolina has designated [..]

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Stone v. State – PCR – Death Penalty Affirmed

In Stone v. State, four of five S.C. Supreme Court justices affirmed Stone’s death sentence after approving testimony by a surviving widow that she attempted suicide when the Supreme Court had previously overturned Stone’s death sentence and after finding that the jury was never informed that Stone suffered from organic brain damage and intellectual impairment. [..]

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Gonzalez v. State – Trafficking in Meth and Conflicts of Interest

In Gonzalez v. State, the S.C. Supreme Court granted post conviction relief (PCR) and vacated Gonzalez’ conviction for trafficking in methamphetamine based on his trial counsel’s conflict of interest.  Gonzalez, a juvenile, was convicted of trafficking in meth 400 grams or more after trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  His lawyer simultaneously represented [..]

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Is a Severely Mentally Retarded Defendant Competent to Stand Trial?

In Ramirez v. State, a severely mentally retarded defendant with an IQ level between 31 and 44 was granted post conviction relief (PCR) because his attorney did not request an independent competency evaluation prior to the defendant’s guilty plea.  The PCR Court denied relief, finding that plea counsel’s performance was not deficient and there was [..]

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When Can You PCR the PCR Lawyer?

I’ve often heard the phrase, “you can’t PCR the PCR lawyer,” when attorneys or clients are complaining about how a PCR attorney may have screwed up their case.  Although it is true that it is difficult to succeed in a post conviction relief claim based on an attorney’s incompetence in a prior PCR proceeding, it [..]

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Earley v. State – When is it Ok for the Prosecutor to Withhold Discovery?

In Earley v. State, decided October 19, 2016, the S.C. Supreme Court found that where the prosecutor withheld a Defendant’s statement until he was on the witness stand, it did not warrant granting PCR to the defendant.  The defendant wrote “see ya” on the alleged victim’s Facebook page prior to trial, the prosecutor obtained the [..]

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