Articles Posted in Government Law

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The Attorney General petitioned the Supreme Court to review two municipal courts' rulings addressing whether the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute criminal cases in magistrate and municipal courts. The first case involved Defendant Paul Gwinn who was charged with Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV). When the case was called for trial, Gwinn made a motion that the Attorney General could not prosecute the case because the municipal court was not a court of record, citing S.C. Const. art. V, sec. 24 (2009). The municipal court found that the Attorney General could prosecute the case. The second case involved the prosecution of Defendant Michael Long, also charged with CDV. Long moved to disqualify the Attorney General's office from prosecuting the case, arguing that the Attorney General is authorized to prosecute cases only in courts of record. The court granted the motion, ruling that the Attorney General did not have the authority to prosecute the case under art. V, sec. 24. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that art. V, sec. 24 does not prevent the Attorney General from prosecuting cases in summary courts. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court in Gwinn's case, and reversed the trial court in Long's case. View "South Carolina v. Gwinn" on Justia Law

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The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Petitioner Phillip Brown's driver's license following his arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). The Hearing Officer for the South Carolina Office of Motor Vehicles Hearings ("OMVH") rescinded the suspension on the ground that the arresting officer failed to present reliable evidence that the breathalyzer test was administered and the sample obtained in accordance with the provisions of section 56-5-2950. Specifically, the OMVH found that the required "simulator test" was not conducted prior to the actual test. The Administrative Law Court (ALC) reversed and reinstated Petitioner's license suspension. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the ALC's order, finding Petitioner's failure to contemporaneously object to the arresting officer's testimony with respect to the functioning of the breathalyzer precluded the review of the issue on appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's driver's license suspension. View "SCDMV v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Donald Austin filed suit against Stokes-Craven, an automobile dealership, after he experienced problems with his used vehicle and discovered the vehicle had sustained extensive damage prior to the sale. The resolution of this case involved an interpretation of a narrow portion of the Supreme Court’s opinion in “Austin v. Stokes-Craven Holding Corp.,” (691 S.E.2d 135 (2010)). Specifically, the consolidated appeals were the result of a dispute over the Court's holding concerning Austin's entitlement to trial fees under the South Carolina Regulation of Manufacturers, Distributors, and Dealers Act and whether the Supreme Court's denial of Austin's motion for appellate costs under Rule 222 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules had preclusive effect on his right to pursue appellate and post-appellate fees under the Dealer's Act. After careful review of the appellate record in this case, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial judge's award of trial fees to Austin and remanded this case to the circuit court to conduct a hearing to determine what amount of appellate and post-appellate fees should be awarded to Austin. View "Austin v. Stokes-Craven Holding" on Justia Law

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Petitioners the State and the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) requested the Supreme Court declare a proposed tax referendum invalid under the Capital Project Sales Tax Act, sections 4-10-300 to -380 of the South Carolina Code, and enjoin Respondents the County of Florence, Florence County Council, and Florence County Registration and Elections Commission from placing the proposed referendum on the ballot for county elections. The Court found Respondents' actions valid pursuant to the Act, and denied Petitioners' request for an injunction. Accordingly, the tax referendum was permitted to go forward.View "South Carolina v. County of Florence" on Justia Law

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Appellants appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the respondents in this case. The case was dismissed after respondents moved for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c), SCRCP. Because the Supreme Court found issues of fact raised by the complaint that needed to be resolved before the constitutionality of 2009 Act No. 99 could be determined, the case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. "The circuit court and respondents [relied] on a single sentence found in 'Bradley v. Cherokee School Dist. No. One,' [470 S.E.2d 570 (1996)]: A law that is special only in the sense that it imposes a lawful tax limited in application and incidence to persons or property within a certain school district does not contravene the provisions of Article III, section 34(IX)." In this case, the Supreme Court held that Appellant's complaint centered on an impact fee, not a tax, and one that is placed on only some persons and not others. Moreover, since 'Bradley' was decided, the Court clarified that all challenges to education-related special legislation were subject to the test set forth in 'Kizer v. Clark,'(600 S.E.2d 529 (2004)). The Supreme Court found that appellants' complaint alleged facts which, if resolved in their favor, would result in a declaration that the Act is unconstitutional. The order granting respondents' Rule 12(c) motion was therefore reversed.View "Home Builders Association v. School District No. 2 of Dorchester County" on Justia Law