Category Archives: Appeals

To the SCDMV: You got to be in it to win it

Earlier this week, the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Turns out that the DMV was not a party to the case.

Don C. Gillespie petitioned the circuit court for a driver’s license in 2008. He served the Solicitor’s Office pursuant to statute. The state did not object and the circuit court granted the petition. Gillespie then served the order on the DMV.

Instead of filing a Motion to Intervene, the DMV filed post-trial motions for the court to reconsider. The circuit court denied the motions and the appeal followed.

The Court made the following observations before dismissing the appeal.

Although not a party, SCDMV filed a Notice of Appeal and attempted to portray itself as a party.  In its notice, SCDMV unilaterally and without court authorization changed the caption from Don C. Gillespie v. State of South Carolina to Don C. Gillespie v. South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Court then went on to dismiss the appeal based on the well-known rule of appellate procedure that only an aggrieved party may appeal.

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Filed under Appeals, DUI/DWI

Search and Seizure

The S.C. Supreme Court granted Certiorari to review the Court of Appeals opinion in State v. Tindall. Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday November 4, 2009.

The Petitioner has raised two issues: First, whether there was error in denying his motion to suppress contraband found during a traffic stop; and second, whether his statement made at the time of arrest should have been suppressed.

Tindall was pulled over for following too closely and speeding on Interstate 85. After issuing a warning ticket, the officer and Tindall engaged in further conversation.  (Has anyone figured it out yet?) The officer then asked, and Tindall allegedly agreed, for consent to search the automobile. After about 15 minutes into the traffic stop, officers found three packages of cocaine.

The trial court determined that the search was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment because the officer had a reasonable suspicion that something illegal was occurring. The Court of Appeals affirmed finding that there was evidence in the record to support the trial court’s determination of reasonable suspicion.

Therein lies the rub. Evidence in the record.

Tindall will argue that the evidence did not give the officer an objectively reasonable and articulate suspicion. The State need only reply that it is in the record.  Should this do it? Apparently under the standard of review that’s all it takes. Call it any evidence or clear error. The Court will not reverse, even if they would have held differently. Maybe we need a different standard.

I have read that the Court will only reverse if it feels firm in its belief that there was error. Unfortunately, I have not found one of those cases that actually find a factual error below.

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Filed under Appeals