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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

Richard A. Nicolas v. AG of Maryland, Richard Graham, Warden (4th Circuit Habeas loss on a Brady claim) or, Letting the Cheating Prosecutors Continue to Get Away with It (Op. No. 15-6616, filed April 27, 2016).

April 27th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This case is a travesty of justice.  If ever there was a case where a circuit court of appeal was afraid to do the right thing for fear of being overturned due to lack of deference to the justice-strangling AEDPA, this is it. Nicholas’s child was shot and killed.  Nicholas testified at trial that he took his child to the movies and that, driving home, a car started following closely behind him, “driving crazy.”  Nicholas pulled off on

State v. Donald Marquice Anderson (Op. 27609), Win in the South Carolina Supreme Court!

April 13th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Excellent work by two very talented appellate lawyers, Carmen Ganjehsani and Laura Baer.  The Greenville Police Department employed its SWAT team to execute a dubious (and highly dangerous) no knock search warrant at a suspected drug house.  The search warrant was based on observations of drug activity in that home and in the surrounding area, and the purchase of drugs by a confidential informant.  As part of their executing this warrant, they

U.S. v. Kenneth Bailey, Jr., No. 15-4109 (4th Cir. WIN!) a/k/a Why You Should Use Uber Instead

April 12th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Excellent win for the Winston-Salem office of the North Carolina Federal Public Defender!  Another recent win in the Fourth Circuit for lack of sufficiency of evidence!  See also U.S. v. Blue, 13-4069, No. 15-4153 (4th Cir. 2015) (drug sale).  After a two day trial, Bailey was convicted of carjacking in violation of 18 U.S.C §2119.  He appealed on the grounds that the Government did not provide sufficient evidence of h

Clifton L. Collins v. Clarke (4th Cir. 14-7082, 3/22/16), or “If You’re Going to Kidnap Someone In Another State, You Should Probably Read the Relevant Statutes First.”

March 22nd, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

A must-read unpublished opinion for anyone contemplating a career move to bail-bondsman, with the notion of securing your bounties in another state!   This opinion is the denial of Collins’s attempt at relief by way of a federal habeas proceeding.  "Dog, Bounty Hunter" Collins was a bail bondsman licensed in NC.  He posted the bond for a particular defendant who did not show up for court.  Collins found out that his defendant would be atte

U.S. v. James William Smith (5th Cir, 14-60926), Reversal for Improper Bolstering

March 18th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an excellent recent case out of the 5th Circuit, a circuit historically loath to reverse the convictions of criminal defendants.  In this case—child pornography, no less—the Court addressed the Smith’s claim of improper bolstering on plain error review.  Smith had to show 1) there was error, 2) it was plain on the face of the transcript, and 3) that the error affected his substantial rights.  Smith complained of the fo

Wearry v. Cain, 577 U.S.__ (2016), SCOTUS Reversal for Brady Violations

March 7th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an excellent per curiam opinion, with a dissent authored by Justice Alito and joined by Justice Thomas, and should remind the State-- yet again-- that their convictions will not stand when they do not play fair. Wearry was a death-sentenced inmate in Louisiana (not after today!).  Nearly two years after the decedent in this case was murdered, Sam Scott (who was then inc

Armed, but not “Dangerous,” Reasonable Suspicion in a State Where Anyone Can Carry a Gun, United States v. Robinson, No. 14-4902 (filed February 23, 2016).

February 24th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is a fascinating case, and one that will reverberate throughout our Circuit.  The take away is quite simple—in a state where it is legal to carry a gun in public, or carry a concealed weapon with a permit, and where permits are relatively easy to obtain, being armed does not mean “being dangerous” for purposes of a Terry frisk.

In this case, an anonymous call

The Absolute NECESSITY of Filing State Court Pleadings on Time or, How One Federal Habeas Petitioner Got Screwed Before He Even Filed. Daniel L. Crowe v. Warden of Perry Correctional, 2016 WL446638 (filed 2/5/16).

February 19th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This case vividly illustrates the draconian and, frankly, unfair, consequences of time limitations set out in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) that governs federal habeas cases.  Petitioner here, Daniel Crowe of Oconee County, SC was convicted of murder in 1998 and sentenced to life in prison.  His appellate lawyer raised one issue on appeal, and his appeal was ultimately denied.  The appeal essentially became

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