Posted by: Elizabeth A. (Betty) Thomas | May 18, 2016

A Case at the South Carolina Supreme Court



Full Courtroom


The South Carolina Supreme Court has a “Class Action” Program which is a unique educational opportunity that allows a class of students to attend an oral argument before the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Petitioner’s brief, the Respondent’s brief, and the Reply Brief of Petitioner were provided in advance.  After the oral arguments, attendees remained in the courtroom and questioned the justices and the attorneys who appeared before the Court. Afterwards, one of the staff attorneys gave a tour of the Supreme Court Building.

The case heard on April 13, 2016, Winkler v. State dealt with the following issue:

Counsel for the Respondent in the trial court did not object when the trial judge did not answer repeated questions from the jury about what they should do if they could not come to a unanimous decision as far as the sentencing of a convicted murderer.

History of the case: The trial court convicted the Respondent of murder, first-degree burglary, and assault and battery. The jury recommended the Respondent be sentenced to death. The Respondent appealed to the Post Conviction Relief Court (PCR) on the grounds that he had ineffective assistance of counsel. The PCR court granted relief and set aside the Respondent’s death sentence and sentenced him to life without parole. In the present case, the State argued that the PCR court erred in granting relief and improperly resentenced the Respondent. The State wants the Supreme Court to reverse the PCR court’s decision and reinstate the death sentence.

The Supreme Court heard arguments from the attorneys on both sides, questioned the attorneys, conferenced after the hearing, and will deliver their decision at a later time.

South Carolina differences:

The Supreme Court of South Carolina has a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices.

The justices are elected by the General Assembly, not by popular vote.

The justices are elected to 10 year terms and retire at age 72.

Appellate briefs are filed by paper, not electronically and a blue cover indicates an Appellant’s brief, a red cover indicates an Appellee’s brief, and a green cover is an Amicus brief.

South Carolina has a Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) Court that is a civil court that deals with cases predominantly about “ineffective assistance of counsel.’

In South Carolina, the South Carolina Bar has two lists for each county. A criminal list of regular bar members who are certified by the Supreme Court to serve as lead counsel in death penalty cases and a civil list of all regular bar members eligible to be appointed in the county. The latter list is used for the appointment of counsel for indigents. The judge makes appointments by alphabetical order.

South Carolina does not have a paralegal certification program.

Photo Gallery

Outside Bldg







Front of Supreme Court Building



















Library 2









Me in Courtroom









Author/Student in the Courtroom


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