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State v. Grier

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

May 15, 2019

The State, Respondent,
v.
Jermaine Demarcus Grier, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2016-001045

          Submitted September 19, 2018

          Appeal From Lancaster County Brian M. Gibbons, Circuit Court Judge

          Appellate Defender Kathrine Haggard Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General William M. Blitch, Jr., and Jennifer Ellis Roberts, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Randy E. Newman, Jr., of Lancaster, all for Respondent.

          MCDONALD, J.

         Jermaine D. Grier appeals his conviction for possession of contraband by a county or municipal prisoner, arguing the circuit court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict and refusing to charge the jury with section 24-3-965 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018), which governs the possession of certain contraband by inmates incarcerated within the South Carolina Department of Corrections. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On November 16, 2015, Officer LaQuentin Smith was preparing to transport Grier from the Lancaster County Detention Center (LCDC) to the Lancaster County Courthouse. As part of the transport process, officers instruct a detainee to place his hands through an opening in his cell door (this opening is generally used to deliver food) for inspection. Officers then handcuff the detainee and ask him to turn around with his back to the door so the officers can wrap a chain around the inmate's waist and secure it.[1] Officer Smith testified that when he and two other officers instructed Grier to place his hands through the door slot for inspection, Grier pulled back his left hand and placed it inside his jumpsuit. When Officer Smith again told Grier to place his left hand through the opening, Grier complied. Officer Smith found nothing in Grier's left hand.

         After officers finished securing Grier, Officer Smith notified Sergeant Matthew Kennington that he suspected Grier had concealed something in his jumpsuit and needed to be searched. With Sergeant Nicholas Tuley as his witness, Sergeant Kennington searched Grier's jumpsuit and confiscated a twisted metal piece of a pen that appeared to have been sharpened down to the tip.

         In February 2016, the Lancaster County Grand Jury indicted Grier for possession of contraband by a county or municipal prisoner under section 24-7-155 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018). Grier's indictment states:

POSSESSION OF CONTRABAND BY COUNTY OR MUNICIPAL PRISONER
That Jermaine Demarcus Grier a prisoner of a county or municipal jail, prison, work camp or overnight lockup facility, did in Lancaster County, South Carolina, on or about November 16, 2015, unlawfully possess a quantity of matter declared by the superintendent of the facility to be contraband, to wit: a sharpened metal piece derived from a writing pen, an illegal weapon, in violation of § 24-7-155, Code of Laws of South Carolina (1976), as amended.

         Section 24-7-155 provides:

It is unlawful for a person to furnish or attempt to furnish a prisoner in any county, municipal, or multijurisdictional jail, prison camp, work camp, or overnight lockup facility with a matter declared to be contraband. It is unlawful for an inmate of a facility to possess a matter declared to be contraband. Matters considered contraband within the meaning of this section are those which are designated as contraband and published by the Department of Corrections as Regulation 33-1 of the Department of Corrections and this regulation must be displayed in a conspicuous place available and visible to visitors and inmates at the facility. The facility manager of a local detention facility, with the approval of the sheriff or chief administrative officer as appropriate, may designate additional items as contraband. Notice of the additional items must be displayed with Regulation 33-1.

         Regulation 33-1 of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (2011) sets forth the following list of contraband:

a. Any item which was not issued to the prisoner officially or which cannot be purchased by him or her in the prison canteen.
b. Weapons, any and all firearms, knives of any and all descriptions, clubs, billies or any other article that may be used for offense or defense.
e. Keys and locks.
f. Tools of any description not approved for issue to prisoners ...

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