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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of South Carolina

May 9, 2018

Samuel Brown Jr., Petitioner,
v.
State of South Carolina, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-002537

          Submitted April 19, 2018

          Appeal from Berkeley County Kristi Lea Harrington, Plea Court Judge Jean Hoefer Toal, Post-Conviction Relief Judge

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

          Appellate Defender Laura Ruth Baer, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General Rasheeda Cleveland, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         Samuel Brown Jr. filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking appellate review of an order granting summary judgment to the State in his application for post-conviction relief (PCR). The PCR court dismissed the action on the ground Brown had completed serving his sentence and did not allege he was suffering collateral consequences of the conviction. We grant the petition, dispense with briefing, reverse, and remand to the PCR court for a hearing on the merits.

         Brown pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana (PWID) on May 20, 2014, and the court sentenced him to three years in prison. At the time of his plea, Brown was already serving a ten-year sentence for trafficking in cocaine. The PWID sentence began on June 25, 2013, due to credit for time served, and was imposed concurrent to the ten-year sentence. Brown did not appeal.

         Brown filed an application for PCR on November 20, 2014. No hearing was held until September 16, 2016. By then, Brown had completed his PWID sentence, [1]although he remained incarcerated on the ten-year sentence. At the PCR hearing, the State made a motion for summary judgment, arguing Brown's claim was moot because he had already completed his PWID sentence. The PCR court granted the State's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the PCR application. We find the circuit court erred.

         Post-conviction relief is a statutory remedy in South Carolina. See S.C. Code Ann. §§ 17-27-10 to -160 (2014 & Supp. 2017) (Post-Conviction Procedure Act). Therefore, we begin our analysis with the text of the Act, which provides,

Any person who has been convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime and who claims:
(1) That the conviction or the sentence was in violation of the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution or laws of this State;
. . . .
may institute . . . a proceeding under this chapter to secure ...

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