Buckson v. South Carolina

Jerome Buckson and Tiffany Foggie lived together in Foggie's apartment until January 2006. At approximately three o'clock in the morning on Monday, January 30, 2006, Buckson entered the apartment through a kitchen window, and proceeded up the stairs to Foggie's bedroom. The door to the bedroom was closed and locked. Foggie and Buckson had been yelling to one another from the time he was outside, and Foggie told Buckson to leave. Instead, he forced the door open to find another man in the room. After a brief struggle, Foggie was shot. Buckson fled the apartment and called 911. He told the 911 operator the man shot at him, and that he heard other shots as he fled. He later learned Foggie was dead from a gunshot wound. The State charged Buckson with murder and first degree burglary. The jury found Buckson not guilty of murder. As to the burglary, the State presented evidence that Buckson no longer lived in the apartment on the night Foggie died, and Buckson's trial counsel presented evidence that he did. The jury found Buckson guilty of first degree burglary. The trial court sentenced him to twenty years in prison. The court of appeals affirmed. The post-conviction relief (PCR) court granted Buckson relief and ordered a new trial. The State appealed, arguing no probative evidence supported the findings of the PCR court. The court of appeals reversed the PCR court. The South Carolina Supreme Court, however, reversed the court of appeals. At his PCR trial, Buckson presented the testimony of five witnesses he claimed trial counsel should have called at the criminal trial. However, some of the testimony was new and was not presented to the jury. Based on this testimony, the PCR court found trial counsel's failure to call the PCR witnesses at the criminal trial was unreasonable. Counsel articulated specific reasons he did not call the witnesses. The State used the words "strategy" and "strategic decisions" in isolated places in its brief to the court of appeals, but the Supreme Court found those issues should have been raised in the Statement of Issues on Appeal. "While we seek to be flexible interpreting issue statements, ... no point will be considered which is not set forth in the statement of the issues on appeal." In addition, the State's arguments in the body of the brief related to the sufficiency of the evidence, not strategy, and the State did not cite any legal authority on the issue of strategy. View "Buckson v. South Carolina" on Justia Law