December 13, 2017
from Spartanburg County J. Derham Cole, Trial Court Judge J.
Mark Hayes II, Post-Conviction Relief Judge
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
A. Blanchette, of the Law Office of Tricia A. Blanchette,
LLC, of Leesville, for Petitioner.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney
General Valerie Garcia Giovanoli, both of Columbia, for
post-conviction relief (PCR) court granted Jerome Curtis
Buckson relief and ordered a new trial. The State appealed,
arguing no probative evidence supports the findings of the
PCR court. The court of appeals reversed the PCR court. We
reverse the court of appeals.
I. Facts and Procedural History
and Tiffany Foggie lived together in Foggie's apartment
in Spartanburg until at least early to mid-January 2006. At
approximately three o'clock in the morning on Monday,
January 30, 2006, Buckson entered the apartment through a
kitchen window, and proceeded up the stairs to Foggie's
bedroom. The door to the bedroom was closed and locked.
Foggie and Buckson had been yelling to one another from the
time he was outside, and Foggie told Buckson to leave.
Instead, he forced the door open to find another man in the
room. After a brief struggle, Foggie was shot. Buckson fled
the apartment and called 911. He told the 911 operator the
man shot at him, and that he heard other shots as he fled. He
later learned Foggie was dead from a gunshot wound.
State charged Buckson with murder and first degree burglary.
At trial, Buckson testified the man approached him with a
gun, and when Foggie tried to "swat" the gun down,
it discharged. The jury found Buckson not guilty of murder.
As to the burglary, the State presented evidence that Buckson
no longer lived in the apartment on the night Foggie died,
and Buckson's trial counsel presented evidence that he
did. The jury found Buckson guilty of first degree burglary.
The trial court sentenced him to twenty years in prison. The
court of appeals affirmed. State v. Buckson, Op. No.
2010-UP-282 (S.C. Ct. App. filed May 20, 2010).
filed a PCR application alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel. Buckson's primary claim was trial counsel was
ineffective in his presentation of evidence that Buckson
still lived in the apartment on the night Foggie died.
See State v. Singley, 392 S.C. 270, 276, 709 S.E.2d
603, 606 (2011) (stating "'one cannot commit the
offence of burglary by breaking into his own home'"
(quoting State v. Trapp, 17 S.C. 467, 470
(1882))). The PCR court found "trial counsel
was [deficient] when he failed to prepare and investigate,
failed to call witnesses, and failed to utilize trial
witnesses to establish that the apartment . . . was . . . his
. . . residence, " and Buckson "was prejudiced as a
result of counsel's [deficient performance]." The
PCR court granted Buckson a new trial.
State appealed by filing a petition for a writ of certiorari
in which it raised four separate issues. Three of the issues
relate to Buckson's primary claim. As to these three
issues-which we address collectively-the State argued only
that the PCR court's findings of deficiency and prejudice
were not supported by any probative evidence. The State
raised no questions of law, and did not make any argument
that the PCR court failed to defer to the strategic
considerations of trial counsel. The State's other issue
related to a different claim we need not
transferred the State's certiorari petition to the court
of appeals pursuant to Rule 243(1) of the South Carolina
Appellate Court Rules. The court of appeals granted the
petition, and reversed in an unpublished opinion. Buckson
v. State, Op. No. 2016-UP-174 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Apr.
13, 2016). We granted Buckson's petition for a writ of
certiorari, and now reverse the court of appeals.