Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Appellate lawyer

Elizabeth Franklin-Best, a criminal appellate lawyer seeking freedom for her clients.  Focused exclusively on criminal appeals in both state and federal courts.

Blog

Garren v. South Carolina, SC Supreme Court, filed 4/25/18: PCR Reversal of Grant of Relief When Lower Court Record Didn’t Support Judge Findings.

May 7th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an important case for those pursuing PCR remedies, or representing PCR Applicants, because it makes clear some of the evidentiary burdens that must be met to win these cases. Garren was convicted of a number of crimes arising out of a domestic dispute. He also has mental health issues. He pleaded guilty. At the plea hearing, his lawyer even noted that he “obviously has some mental problems.” He did not directly appeal his case, but fi

US v. Scott C. Redman, 7th Cir., filed 4/17/18: Court affirms sentence for fake-doctor who used sophisticated means, recklessly endangered patients in bold, bold fraudulent scheme.

May 3rd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is, in my opinion, one of the bolder, fraudulent schemes one could undertake, which may explain why it didn’t last very long (just a couple of months!). Mr. Redman dropped out of high school, but that didn’t stop him from applying for, and then getting hired, as a psychiatrist at a Chicago

Yancey Thompson v. State, S.C. Supreme Court, filed 3/21/18: South Carolina Supreme Court Continues to Monitor PCR Cases Closely

March 28th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Once again the South Carolina Supreme Court has reversed a PCR case, finding that the PCR Court did not properly assess the prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).  The Court is clearly taking longer and harder looks at this legal vehicle, and that's a great thing for criminal justice in South Carolina.   This was a criminal sexual misconduct case, and the State used their standard playbook.  It cal

US v. Taison McCollum, No. 17-4296 (4th Cir., filed 3/20/18): Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering Not So Violent-y.

March 23rd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Remand for Re-Sentencing After Categorical Approach Reveals Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering is not "Crime of Violence."   So no one is particularly happy about this opinion . . . except Mr. McCollum.  The majority was "reluctant" to vacate the sentence, Judge Traxler's concurrence essentially asks either Congress or the United States Su

US v. Savage, No. 16-4704 (4th Cir., filed 3/12/18): Interplay of Jencks Act and Brady Material Showings and When District Court Must Hold In Camera Hearing

March 15th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Trial counsel needs to lay a foundation or make 'plausible showing' before Court will gig federal district court for not holding in camera review of government materials. This is a fairly lengthy opinion, but there's one part of it that I want to focus on, which is the showing that counsel must make in order to compel a district court judge to review pote

US v. Damian Phillips & $200,000 (4th Cir., filed 2/21/18): Fourth Circuit Decides Appropriate Test for Third-Party Standing in Civil Forfeiture cases.

March 6th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Government pockets $200K without even having to swear out a warrant. Another infuriating civil forfeiture case, here the Government seized $200,000 located in a storage unit even though there were no charges filed, or any investigation conducted.  A police dog alerted on a storage unit.  No drugs were found, but $200,000 was present in 12 vacuum-sealed plastic b

US v. Damian Phillips & $200,000 (4th Cir., filed 2/21/18): Fourth Circuit Decides Appropriate Test for Third-Party Standing in Civil Forfeiture cases.

February 23rd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Government pockets $200K without even having to swear out a warrant. Another infuriating civil forfeiture case, here the Government seized $200,000 located in a storage unit even though there were no charges filed, or any investigation conducted.  A police dog alerted on a storage unit.  No drugs were found, but $200,000 was present in 12 vacuum-sealed plastic b

Stephen Smalls v. State of South Carolina, filed 2/7/18: South Carolina Supreme Court Reverses Conviction Finding that COA Did Not Properly Assess State’s Evidence of Guilt. Also, Court Clarifies It Reviews PCR Legal Conclusion De Novo.

February 8th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Important case for the Bench and Bar-- Court clarifies its standard of review for PCR court conclusions of law, and how to properly assess strength of State's case in assessing Strickland prejudice. The title of this post is probably a bit misleading, given the procedural posture of this case.  What really happened is that the South Carolina Suprem

State v. Justin Johnson, SC Court of Appeals, filed 1/31/18: Court of Appeals Addresses Sympathy Photographs and Cops using Skype.

February 1st, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

  A particularly brutal double murder ostensibly justifies finding significant errors to be harmless. The opinion details the horrifying and sad details of this double-homicide case.  Warning: one of the victims was a 9-month old boy, the appellant's son.  Because of the facts, the Court could not find its way to finding the significant errors in this case to be prejudicial. First, the State introduced photograph

U.S. v. Hager, 5th Circuit, filed 1/5/18: Fraud and Confidential Business Information

January 31st, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Private business information taken by the defendant to profit deemed confidential business information which created a property right created by the mail and wire fraud statutes. The defendant, Hager, worked for Velocity Electronics, a company which distributed computer parts in Austin, Texas. By wrongfully using Velocity's confidential information, Hager profited $1.16 million over the course of 4 years. Hager set up a fake c