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.


United States v. Cortez Fisher, 711 F.3d 460 (4th Cir. 2013) a/k/a Oh, Wow, Do Cops Actually DO THIS?

August 4th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is not really a new case, but it’s a good one to keep in mind for a couple of reasons—1) it reminds us that guilty pleas do not sanitize government misconduct, and 2) in federal cases, the 2255 can be a powerful remedy for undoing injustice. Marta Kahn, of Baltimore, Maryland was the Outstanding Lawyer for this defendant. The opinion starts off with a BANG:

In this extraordinary case, the law-enforcement officer respon

Nelson H. Castro v. State, Appellate Case No. 2015-000021 (filed July 20, 2016) – SC Supreme Court PCR Win!

July 25th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

In this per curiam opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court reviewed the question of whether the PCR judge erred in finding petitioner (Castro) failed to prove his trial counsel was ineffective when trial counsel did not object when the trial judge considered Castro’s decision to exercise his constitutional right to a jury trial as a factor when he sentenced Castro?  That’s a mouthful, but it comes down to this: Castro was charged with f

Martina Putnam v. State of South Carolina, App. Case No. 2012-212396 a/k/a YOU WILL LOSE YOUR PCR CASE IF YOUR LAWYER DOESN’T BRING WITNESSES TO TESTIFY

July 11th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This case is a lesson regarding how a state PCR lawyer absolutely MUST perform at the evidentiary hearing that is provided for an inmate by statute. The facts are very tragic and involve the conviction of a mother for homicide by child abuse.  After she was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, she submitted a post-conviction relief application.  She alleged that her trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failin

Didier Van Sellner v. State of South Carolina, PCR Win in the SC Supreme Court! Opinion No. 27644 (filed 6/29/16)

June 29th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Justice Hearn authored this opinion granting Van Sellner the right to a new trial.  Van Sellner, upon the advice of counsel, pleaded guilty to armed robbery.  With a prior out of state conviction, Van Sellner was subject to mandatory life in prison had he been convicted at trial.  Concerned about that possibility, he informed the court that he wanted to plead guilty to avoid returning to jail for a prolonged period of time.  He was sentenced

In re: John Earl McFadden, A Blow for Inmates Seeking Successive Habeas Petitions, No. 15-206 (4th Cir. 2016).

June 20th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Today Judges King, Gregory and Wynn denied McFadden’s request to file a successive habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2244(b). McFadden had been attempting to obtain his trial and appellate files for years (he was convicted in December 2006).  He received them in May 2014.  At that time, he found a document—a proposed plea agreement, signed by his then lawyer but not signed by the Government.  Based on this, McFadden made the claim that

State v. Melvin Presley Stukes, App. Case No. 2015-000908 (filed May 4, 2016) MAJOR SC SUPREME COURT WIN!!!!

June 14th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Incredible advocacy by my dear friend and Appellate Amazon, Kat Hudgins!  Also a very significant shift in the law on this very important issue—witness corroboration in child sex abuse cases.  Here, the Court held that a key statute is unconstitutional, and expressly overruled its prior precedent condoning the instruction.

S.C.Code Ann. 16-3-657 provides, “[t]he testimony of

McCormick v. Parker, A Brady Win in the 10th Circuit! 2016 WL1743388 (filed May 3, 2016)

May 30th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

It’s never easy to win a case on federal habeas review, and more difficult still to win on a Brady claim in federal habeas review.  This, then, is a very significant habeas victory. Although not in our circuit, this case is still an important one given SC’s reliance on the use of SANE nurses, and the possibility that this issue could arise here. In short, McCormick was tried for two counts of sexual assault.  At trial, the State


May 23rd, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The United States Supreme Court issued an extraordinary win today on a Batson claim in Foster v. Chatman, No. 14-8349 (filed May 23, 2016).  Congratulations to our colleagues at the Southern Center for Human Rights for their hard work and perseverance! The case arises out of Rome, Georgia where a very sympathetic victim was murdered and sexually assaulted.  Foster was quickly arrested and charged with her murder.  It was a

Susan Tappeiner v. State of South Carolina, Appellate No. 2013-001885, A PCR Win Based on Improper Solicitor Closing Argument (Beaufort County, no surprise there!)

May 22nd, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Excellent work by the very experienced Tara Shurling! Unanimous opinion reversing the circuit court’s denial of Ms. Tappeiner’s application for post-conviction relief. Ms. Tappeiner was accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a young neighbor. The case lacked any physical evidence, and essentially came down to a swearing contest between Ms. Tappeiner (and her husband) and the alleged victim. A review of the case shows how weak this

State v. Whitlee Jones, App. Case No. 2014-002123, An Important Win in the SC Supreme Court for the Castle Doctrine! (filed May 18, 2016)

May 19th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Striking a well-earned blow to the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office’s argument that victims of criminal domestic violence should not be entitled to “stand their ground,” the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed, in an unanimous opinion, that they are. Ms. Jones was indicted for murder after she stabbed her boyfriend in the house they shared.  Ms. Jones argued pretrial that she should be granted immunity under the “Protection of Per