March 6, 2019
From Pickens County J. Cordell Maddox Jr., Circuit Court
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
Attorney General Alan Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy
Attorney General S. Creighton Waters, and Senior Assistant
Attorney General Brian T. Petrano, all of Columbia, for
Gleaton, of Gleaton Law Firm, PC, and William G. Yarborough
III, of William G. Yarborough III, Attorney at Law, both of
Greenville, for Respondent.
State's appeal from the grant of Frederick Scott
Pfeiffer's second Rule 29(a), SCRCrimP, motion presents
the following question: after the disposition of an initial
Rule 29(a) motion, and more than ten days after imposition of
the sentence, does the trial court have jurisdiction to hear
a second Rule 29(a) motion? We answer the question by holding
the trial court lacks jurisdiction to hear a second Rule
29(a) motion, unless the second motion challenges something
that was altered from the original sentence as a result of
the initial Rule 29(a) motion.
September 18, 2013, Pfeiffer pled guilty to criminal
conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud. The State and
Pfeiffer entered into a negotiated plea. It is uncontested
that the trial court sentenced Pfeiffer in accordance with
the negotiated plea agreement.
dispute quickly arose with the South Carolina Department of
Correction's interpretation of the sentencing sheets. To
resolve any confusion, Pfeiffer timely filed his first Rule
29(a) motion to correct the clerical errors, which resulted
in an October 8, 2013 hearing. Without objection, the trial
court entered an amended sentence clarifying the sentencing
sheets. The "amended sentence" did not
substantively alter the original sentence; the amended
sentencing sheets merely removed any concern the Department
of Corrections had with interpreting the original sentence.
also on October 8, 2013, Pfeiffer's codefendant was
sentenced. Pfeiffer believed his sentence was unduly harsh in
comparison to his codefendant's sentence. As a result, on
October 17, twenty-nine days after the original sentence,
Pfeiffer filed a second Rule 29(a) motion seeking a reduced
sentence based on the codefendant's lighter sentence. As
noted, there has never been any suggestion Pfeiffer's
original sentence was contrary to the negotiated plea
agreement. Rather, the negotiated plea specifically allowed
the State to control the order and timing of Pfeiffer and his
codefendant's pleas and sentencing proceedings.
Specifically, the plea agreement provided that the
"State retain[ed] the right to call the order of plea
and/or sentencing for Mr. Pfeiffer and any codefendant."
State argued that Pfeiffer's second motion was untimely
because more than ten days had elapsed since the original
sentencing and the second motion was in no manner related to
the first. The trial court, however, found the motion was
timely, and granted Pfeiffer's second motion by reducing
his sentence. The court of appeals affirmed, and we granted
the State's petition for writ of certiorari. See
State v. Pfeiffer, Op. No. 2018-UP-130 (S.C. Ct. App.
filed Mar. 28, 2018).
the second Rule 29(a) motion was untimely. In a criminal
case, once the term of court ends, the trial court lacks
jurisdiction to consider additional matters unless a party
files a timely post-trial motion. State v. Campbell,
376 S.C. 212, 215-16, 656 S.E.2d 371, 373 (2008). Rule 29(a),
SCRCrimP, provides that a post-trial motion "shall be
made within ten (10) days after the imposition of the
sentence." Successive Rule 29(a) motions are generally
not permitted. However, where a second Rule 29(a) motion is
related to the disposition of the first Rule 29(a) motion,
the trial court retains authority to hear and dispose of the
subsequent motion, provided the subsequent motion is filed
within ten days of the disposition of the prior post-trial
motion. That did not occur here. Cf. Elam v. S.C.
Dep't of Transp., 361 S.C. 9, 15, 602 S.E.2d 772,
775 (2004) ("[A] second motion for reconsideration . . .
is appropriate only if ...