511 S.E.2d 62 (S.C. 1999), 24884, Palacio v. State

Docket Nº:24884.
Citation:511 S.E.2d 62, 333 S.C. 506
Opinion Judge:FINNEY, Chief Justice:
Party Name:Wilson A. PALACIO, Respondent, v. STATE of South Carolina, Petitioner.
Attorney:Attorney General Charles M. Condon; Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh; Assistant Deputy Attorney General Teresa A. Knox; and Assistant Attorney General Matthew M. McGuire, all of Columbia, for petitioner. Thomas J. Quinn, of Beaufort, for respondent.
Case Date:January 18, 1999
Court:Supreme Court of South Carolina
 
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Page 62

511 S.E.2d 62 (S.C. 1999)

333 S.C. 506

Wilson A. PALACIO, Respondent,

v.

STATE of South Carolina, Petitioner.

No. 24884.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

January 18, 1999

Page 63

Submitted Oct. 21, 1998.

Rehearing Denied Feb. 22, 1999.

Page 64

[333 S.C. 509] Attorney General Charles M. Condon; Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh; Assistant Deputy Attorney General Teresa A. Knox; and Assistant Attorney General Matthew M. McGuire, all of Columbia, for petitioner.

Thomas J. Quinn, of Beaufort, for respondent.

TOAL, Justice:

In this application for post-conviction relief ("PCR"), the PCR court granted the applicant a new trial, finding ineffective assistance of counsel. We reverse.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On the morning of October 30, 1991, Charleston detectives Vanhorn and Warren followed a woman named Kerri Johnson to the Amtrak station in North Charleston. Police initiated the surveillance of Johnson as a result of a tip from a phone call received by police earlier that morning. At the Amtrak station, police followed Johnson into the train depot. At approximately 7:15 a.m., a train arrived from New York. Police observed Johnson greet Wilson Palacio ("Defendant") as he departed the train.

The detectives approached Johnson and Defendant after they exited the train depot. Detective Vanhorn identified himself as a police officer and told Defendant that he suspected Defendant was transporting illegal narcotics. Vanhorn asked permission to search Defendant's person and luggage. Vanhorn testified that Defendant said "yes" to the search. Defendant was not yet under arrest.

Detective Warren uncovered a boot while searching Defendant's luggage. According to Vanhorn, when the detective picked up the boot, Defendant stated, "you got it." Detective Warren pulled out an aluminum foil bundle containing cocaine. Defendant was immediately placed under arrest.

After police arrested Defendant, he repeatedly told them that Johnson was his girlfriend, and she knew nothing about [333 S.C. 510] the drugs. At the police station, Defendant was advised of his Miranda 1 rights. The detectives told Defendant that they could not let Johnson go unless he gave them a written statement. Defendant subsequently waived his Miranda rights and dictated a statement to Detective Vanhorn. In the statement, Defendant explained he picked up nine ounces of cocaine in New York and was to be paid $1500 upon arriving in Charleston. 2 Defendant signed the statement.

In 1993, Defendant was indicted for trafficking more than 100 grams of cocaine and for conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. The State later dismissed the conspiracy charge, leaving only the trafficking charge. A jury found Defendant guilty of trafficking cocaine under S.C.Code Ann. § 44-53-370 (Supp.1997). 3 Defendant was represented by Tara Anderson ("Attorney") at trial. The trial judge sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. See S.C.Code Ann. § 44-53-370(e)(2)(c) (Supp.1997). 4

Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict and sentence. State v. Palacio, 95-UP-209 (Ct.App.1995). 5

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On December 12, 1995, Defendant submitted his application [333 S.C. 511] for PCR. The PCR court granted the application, finding ineffective assistance of counsel. The PCR court ordered a new trial. We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari to consider the following issues:

(1) Did the PCR court err in finding Attorney ineffective for failing to obtain or request all documents necessary for trial?

(2) Did the PCR court err in finding Attorney ineffective for failing to challenge the State's search of defendant based on lack of probable cause?

(3) Did the PCR court err in finding Attorney ineffective for failing to challenge the State's chain of custody?

(4) Did the PCR court err in finding Attorney ineffective for failing to use a peremptory strike during jury selection?

(5) Did the PCR court err in finding Attorney ineffective for failing to request a jury charge discussing the dismissal of the State's conspiracy charge?

LAW/ANALYSIS

  1. STANDARD OF REVIEW

    In PCR proceedings, the applicant has the burden of establishing his entitlement to relief. Butler v. State, 286 S.C. 441, 334 S.E.2d 813 (1985). Where allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel are made, the question becomes, whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result. Id.

    Pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), this Court applies the following two-pronged test when considering a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) the applicant must show his counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) but for counsel's error, there is a reasonable probability the result at trial would have been different. Jackson v. State, 329 S.C. 345, 495 S.E.2d 768 (1998). A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of trial. Id.

    In [333 S.C. 512] reviewing a PCR grant, we are concerned only with whether there is any evidence of probative value to support the PCR judge's decision. If any evidence of probative value is found, this Court must affirm the ruling of the PCR court. Cherry v. State, 300 S.C. 115, 386 S.E.2d 624 (1989).

  2. DISCOVERY REQUESTS

    The State argues that the PCR court erred in...

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