Submitted October 16, 2017
from Lexington County R. Lawton McIntosh, Circuit Court Judge
Appellate Defender Robert M. Pachak, of Columbia, for
Attorney General Alan M. Wilson and Senior Assistant Attorney
General Melody Jane Brown, of Columbia, for Respondent.
granted a writ of certiorari to review the circuit
court's denial of Petitioner's application for
post-conviction relief (PCR). We reverse the PCR court's
denial of relief and remand to the court of general sessions
for a new trial.
2008, Petitioner Yancey Thompson was convicted of first
degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor, second
degree CSC with a minor, and disseminating obscene material
to a minor. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of
twenty-five years, twenty years, and ten years, respectively.
Petitioner appealed and this Court affirmed his convictions.
State v. Thompson, Op. No. 2010-MO-028 (S.C. Sup.
Ct. filed Nov. 8, 2010). Petitioner then sought PCR. The PCR
court concluded Petitioner had established his trial counsel
was deficient in certain respects but denied relief on the
basis that Petitioner had not proven he was prejudiced by
Victim was an infant, her mother Monica Gleaton (Mother) sent
her to live with her cousin Julia Thompson (Cousin) and
Petitioner because Mother was seventeen years old, had four
other children, and was therefore unable to care for Victim.
When Victim was twelve years old, someone reported to
authorities she was being physically abused and neglected by
Cousin. While being interviewed by South Carolina Department
of Social Services (DSS) caseworker Trina Elfering, Victim
denied she was being abused by Cousin but reported Petitioner
had sexually abused her from the time she was five years old.
Ms. Elfering reported the allegations to the Lexington County
Sheriff, resulting in the charges against Petitioner.
claims his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by
failing to object to inadmissible hearsay testimony and by
failing to object to testimony that improperly bolstered
establish ineffective assistance of counsel, the PCR
applicant must prove (1)counsel's performance fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2)the applicant
sustained prejudice as a result of counsel's deficient
performance. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
687-88 (1984); Cherry v. State, 300 S.C. 115,
117-18, 386 S.E.2d 624, 625 (1989). To establish prejudice,
the applicant must prove "there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional
errors, the result of the proceeding would have been
different." Cherry, 300 S.C. at 117- 18, 386
S.E.2d at 625 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694).
PCR case, this Court will uphold the PCR court's factual
findings if there is any evidence of probative value in the
record to support them. Sellner v. State, 416 S.C.
606, 610, 787 S.E.2d 525, 527 (2016). However, this Court
gives no deference to the PCR court's conclusions of law,
and we review those conclusions de novo. Jamison v.
State, 410 S.C. 456, 465, 765 S.E.2d 123, 127 (2014).
court's deficiency findings were based upon an analysis
of the South Carolina Rules of Evidence governing hearsay and
upon the common law barring inadmissible bolstering
testimony; because these findings-in this case-are
conclusions of law, we review them de novo.
to Object to Inadmissible Hearsay Testimony
application and during the PCR hearing, Petitioner claimed
trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to
object to inadmissible hearsay testimony given by DSS
caseworker Elfering. The PCR court did not address this
allegation in its order. Petitioner raised the issue again in
his motion for reconsideration made pursuant to Rule 59(e) of
the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. The PCR court
again did ...