Sullivan v. Sec’y, Florida Department of Corrections (11th Cir. 9/20/16). Martinez Win in Non-Capital Habeas!

September 22nd, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Excellent opinion for those of us keeping track of Martinez wins in federal district court!   A quick review of the case.  Sullivan was charged with sundry rather harmless offenses in Florida.  Drugs and a failure to stop for police officers. He had a one-day trial and was represented by a lawyer named Bollinger.  During the jury charge conference, the prosecutor asked that the jury be charged that voluntary intoxication is not a de

State v. Joshua William Porch, App. Case No. 2013-2531 (S. C. Ct. App., filed 8/3/16)

September 13th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The main issue in this Court of Appeals case is whether the trial court judge erred in failing to void the State’s arrest warrant pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978). Franks generally stands for the proposition that cops can’t lie or omit material information in the affidavits they obtain from magistrate court judges. A bit of the history of this case, since I’ve actually had a personal interest in it. 

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)

September 13th, 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 Persons

State v. Theodore Manning, App. No. 2015-204, S.C. S. Ct, filed 9/7/16, or, Presumptively Innocent Defendants Get Same Due Process as Convicted Sex Offenders

September 13th, 2016
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Not good news on the Castle Doctrine front and likely to promote additional litigation on the issue in every case where the issue arises. Manning shot his girlfriend who was in his house as an invitee. They argued. She was ultimately shot, but the circumstances of that shooting were the basis of the Castle Doctrine hearing that Manning sought before he was tried for murder (as an aside, this was a murder trial, but Manning was ultimately only

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




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