Ex Parte: South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Appellant,
Rocky A. Linkhorn, Respondent. In re: State of South Carolina, Respondent, Appellate Case No. 2013-002208
December 3, 2015
From Lexington County J. Michael Baxley, Circuit Court Judge
William H. Davidson, II and Andrew F. Lindemann, both of
Davidson & Lindemann, P.A., of Columbia; General Counsel
Tana G. Vanderbilt, of South Carolina Department of
Disabilities and Special Needs, of Columbia, all for
Attorney General Alan M. Wilson, Deputy Solicitor General J.
Emory Smith, Jr., Solicitor General Robert D. Cook and
Assistant Attorney General T. Parkin Hunter, all of Columbia;
Public Defender Elizabeth C. Fullwood, of Lexington, all for
petitions for rehearing are denied. The attached opinion is
substituted for the previous opinion, which is withdrawn.
W. Beatty C.J., John W. Kittredge J., Kaye G. Hearn J., Jean
H. Toal A.J., Costa M. Pleicones A.J.
JUSTICE BEATTY: Rocky A. Linkhorn was arrested and
charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor in the
First Degree, Lewd Act on a Minor, and Disseminating Obscene
Material to a Minor. After finding Linkhorn was incompetent
to stand trial and unlikely to become fit in the foreseeable
future, the circuit court ordered the solicitor to initiate
judicial admission proceedings in the probate court to have
Linkhorn involuntarily committed to the South Carolina
Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
("DDSN"). Before the probate court determined
whether Linkhorn was intellectually disabled, the solicitor
filed a motion for a rule to show cause in the circuit court,
requesting DDSN be ruled into court "to show just cause
for services being denied to [Linkhorn] as previously
ordered." The circuit court granted the solicitor's
motion and ordered DDSN to, inter alia, take custody
of Linkhorn and house him in a secure facility until the
probate court determines whether Linkhorn is intellectually
disabled. Additionally, the court prohibited DDSN from
refusing involuntary commitment of individuals similarly
situated to Linkhorn. DDSN appealed. We certified the appeal
pursuant to Rule 204(b), SCACR. For reasons which will be
discussed, we reverse.
case concerns the application of the South Carolina
Intellectual Disability, Related Disabilities, Head Injuries,
and Spinal Cord Injuries Act ("Act") and certain
provisions under Title 44, Chapter 23 of the South Carolina
Code. The Act and Title 44, Chapter 23 contain competing
definitions of the term "intellectual disability."
The crux of the issue before the Court is which definition is
applicable to Linkhorn.
recitation of the facts and the tortured procedural history
of this case are unnecessary to determine the resolution of
the ultimate issue presented. The uncontroverted evidence
shows that Linkhorn suffers from dementia caused by an anoxic
brain injury resulting from Linkhorn's attempt to hang
himself. Linkhorn has numerous cognitive and intellectual
deficits in addition to slow speech and difficulty performing
certain motor activities. It is noteworthy that
Linkhorn's disability did not manifest until he was
twenty-three years of age.
A. Statutory Overview
44, Chapter 23 outlines, inter alia, the procedures
for individuals found unfit to stand trial. These provisions
apply to both the mentally ill and persons with intellectual
disabilities. Under this ...