February 10, 2016.
From Charleston County R. Knox McMahon, Circuit Court Judge.
Appellate Case No. 2014-001938.
Defender Kathrine Haggard Hudgins, of Columbia, for
General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General
Susannah Rawl Cole, both of Columbia; and Solicitor Scarlett
Anne Wilson, of Charleston, for Respondent.
J. LOCKEMY and MCDONALD, JJ., concur.
Anthony Bailey appeals his conviction for threatening the
life of a public official, arguing the circuit court erred in
finding a mental health professional employed by the South
Carolina Department of Mental Health (the Department) was a
public official, rather than a public employee, under section
16-3-1040 of the South Carolina Code (2015). We reverse.
appeal arises out of an incident that occurred on August 28,
2013, at the Al Cannon Detention Center located in Charleston
County, South Carolina. Bailey, who suffers from bipolar
disorder, was being held in the Charleston County jail for
municipal level offenses. The victim in this case, Amy
Cradock, was asked to assess Bailey based upon alleged
threats he made as well as his actions toward detention
officers that day. Cradock is employed by the
Charleston/Dorchester Mental Health Center, a subsidiary of
the Department, and serves as a designated mental health
examiner for the jail.
Cradock received the referral, she learned that Bailey had
threatened to kill a detention officer upon release. Thus,
Cradock visited Bailey to assess whether he needed to be
hospitalized for homicidal ideations. According to Cradock,
Bailey became very agitated when she arrived at his cell.
Cradock testified that Bailey " started making some very
negative statements about the mental health center, and
stated that he intended to go shoot up the health center and
kill everyone in the mobil [sic] crisis." Bailey further
told Cradock " if [she] didn't get away from his
door fast enough, [she] would be added to the list." As
Cradock was walking away, Bailey said, " I'm adding
you to the list anyway; I'm going to kill you too."
Charleston County grand jury indicted Bailey for threatening
the life of a public official on February 3, 2014. Following
a bench trial on September 4, 2014, the circuit court found
Bailey guilty and sentenced him to five years'
imprisonment, suspended upon the service of eighteen months,
with five years' probation. This appeal followed.
In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors
of law only." State v. Jenkins, 412 S.C. 643,
650, 773 S.E.2d 906, 909 (2015). " Thus, an appellate
court is bound by the circuit court's factual findings
unless they are clearly erroneous." State v.
Blakney, 410 S.C. 244, 249, 763 S.E.2d 622, 625 (Ct.App.
2014). The interpretation of a statute, however, is a
question of law subject to de novo review. State v.
Whitner, 399 S.C. 547, 552, 732 S.E.2d 861, 863 (2012).
The appellate court is free to decide questions of law with
no particular deference to the circuit court. Lambries v.
Saluda Cty. Council, 409 ...