In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Jeffrey Allen Chapman, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2014-001181
May 17, 2016
From Greenville County The Honorable Robin B. Stilwell,
Circuit Court Judge
Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for
Attorney General Alan M. Wilson and Senior Assistant Deputy
Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, both of Columbia, for
Greenville County jury found Jeffrey Chapman met the
statutory definition of a sexually violent predator (SVP) as
set forth in South Carolina's Sexually Violent Predator
Act (the Act),  and the trial court subsequently signed an
order to civilly commit Chapman. In this direct appeal,
Chapman presents a novel issue of law related to the right to
counsel in SVP proceedings. We hold that persons committed as
SVPs have a right to the effective assistance of counsel, and
they may effectuate that right by seeking a writ of habeas
corpus. Therefore, although we affirm Chapman's
commitment on issue preservation grounds, he may reassert his
ineffective assistance of counsel claims in a future habeas
2005, Chapman pled guilty to one count of lewd act on a
minor, involving a ten-year-old female. He was sentenced to
fifteen years' imprisonment, suspended to time served and
five years' probation. Approximately five years later,
Chapman's probation was revoked due to "technical
violations, " including a failure to comply with his
curfew and GPS monitoring requirements, and a circuit court
judge ordered him imprisoned for five years of his original
2013, prior to Chapman's release from prison, the State
filed a petition under the Act seeking Chapman's
commitment as an SVP. In support of its petition, the State
cited Chapman's four prior convictions involving sexual
assaults on women, as well as the conviction for lewd act on
Chapman's commitment trial,  the State presented
testimony from Dr. Marie Gehle, the chief psychologist at the
South Carolina Department of Mental Health, who the court
qualified as an expert in forensic and clinical psychology
and SVP mental health evaluations. Dr. Gehle testified she
reviewed Chapman's incarceration records, military
records, and criminal history, including investigation
summaries, witness statements, Chapman's statements, and
sentencing sheets. Additionally, Dr. Gehle testified she
interviewed Chapman and performed psychological testing,
which included completing the Static-99R actuarial risk
explaining her findings, Dr. Gehle detailed the facts
surrounding Chapman's prior sex offenses, including two
sexual assault convictions in Florida in 1986, an attempted
second-degree rape conviction in North Carolina in 1991, a
third-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction in South
Carolina in 1992, an indecent exposure conviction in South
Carolina in 1997, and a lewd act on a minor conviction in
South Carolina in 2005. Dr. Gehle stated Chapman's
behavior in each instance appeared to be impulsive and
violent. Moreover, she testified Chapman took no
responsibility for his actions, instead claiming the
convictions were the result of consensual sex or fabrication
by the victims.
her review of Chapman's records, psychological tests, and
personal interview, Dr. Gehle concluded Chapman suffered from
biastophilia,  anti-social personality disorder, and
substance abuse disorder. As a result of the interplay of the
characteristics of those diagnoses, Dr. Gehle opined that
Chapman posed a high risk of reoffending.
contrast, Chapman presented testimony from several personal
acquaintances, each of whom testified to Chapman's good
character. The witnesses stated that after Chapman's last
conviction, his life and attitude had changed drastically as
a result of him attending church. Chapman testified as well,
stating drugs and alcohol had a significant effect on his
life since his teenage years, and blaming substance abuse for
most of his bad actions.
final witness was Dr. David Price, a psychologist, who the
court qualified as an expert in clinical and forensic
psychology. Dr. Price testified he disagreed with Dr.
Gehle's diagnoses of biastophilia and anti-social
personality disorder. In part, Dr. Price stated his
disagreement stemmed from Dr. Gehle's application and
interpretation of the psychological tests Chapman completed,
including the Static-99R test, because the test had been
discredited to some degree in professional circles.
the two-day trial, Chapman's counsel did not make any
motions, including a motion for a directed verdict or JNOV.
Further, Chapman's counsel objected only once, during Dr.
Price's voir dire.
the jury found Chapman met the statutory definition for an
SVP, and the trial court ordered Chapman's commitment.
Chapman appealed, and the Court certified the appeal pursuant
to Rule 204(b), SCACR.
a person committed as an SVP have a due process right to
effective assistance of counsel?
a person committed as an SVP has a right to effective
assistance of counsel, when during his appeal may he raise
his trial counsel's perceived errors?
a person committed as an SVP has a right to effective
assistance of counsel, what standard should a court use to
evaluate counsel's performance?
trial counsel's failure to object to various alleged
errors during trial violate Chapman's right to effective
assistance of counsel?
of statutory construction are a matter of law."
Boiter v. S.C. Dep't of Transp., 393 S.C. 123,
132, 712 S.E.2d 401, 405 (2011). The Court reviews questions
of law de novo. Milliken & Co. v. Morin, 399
S.C. 23, 30, 731 S.E.2d 288, 291 (2012).
on appeal from a case tried before a jury in an action at
law, appellate courts may not disturb the jury's factual
findings "unless a review of the record discloses that
there is no evidence which reasonably supports the jury's
findings." Townes Assocs., Ltd. v. City of
Greenville, 266 S.C. 81, 85, 221 S.E.2d 773, 775 (1976).
Thus, this Court's jurisdiction in those cases extends
only to the ...