Brown v. State, No. 25227.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWALLER, Justice
Citation343 S.C. 342,540 S.E.2d 846
PartiesSam BROWN, Petitioner, v. STATE of South Carolina, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 25227.
Decision Date08 January 2001

343 S.C. 342
540 S.E.2d 846

Sam BROWN, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent

No. 25227.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Submitted November 15, 2000.

Decided January 8, 2001.


343 S.C. 344
John B. Shupper, of Columbia, for petitioner

Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General G. Robert Deloach, III, and Assistant Attorney General Douglas Leadbitter, all of Columbia, for respondent.

WALLER, Justice:

We granted certiorari to address petitioner's claim that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to accept his guilty pleas on three counts of distribution of crack cocaine within proximity of a school. We reverse the dismissal of petitioner's post-conviction relief (PCR) application and vacate his convictions on these counts.

343 S.C. 345
FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 1993, petitioner pled guilty to three counts of distribution of crack cocaine, three counts of distribution of crack cocaine within proximity of a school, and one count of trafficking in crack cocaine. He was sentenced as a second offender to twenty years on each distribution count, ten years on each distribution within proximity of a school count, and twenty-five years on the trafficking count. The trial court ordered all sentences to run concurrent. Petitioner did not directly appeal.

The instant matter concerns petitioner's second PCR application wherein one allegation was lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Initially, the application was summarily dismissed as successive. On petition for certiorari, petitioner argued that there was no subject matter jurisdiction because of erroneous code sections listed in the indictments. This Court stated that the PCR court should not have dismissed the application as successive because subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time. The Court found no prejudice, however, and denied certiorari.

Because of some procedural irregularities in the initial handling of petitioner's application, the PCR court ordered a hearing after this Court issued its denial of certiorari. At the hearing, petitioner again raised a subject matter jurisdiction argument regarding the erroneous code sections in the indictments. The PCR court dismissed the application as successive, and specifically found that this Court had ruled on the subject matter jurisdiction argument that petitioner raised at the hearing.

Petitioner then filed another petition for certiorari and raised a new subject matter jurisdiction argument. For the first time, petitioner questioned whether the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to accept his guilty pleas to the three counts of distribution within proximity of a school where the indictment alleged that petitioner distributed crack cocaine while within the grounds of "Anne's Day Care Center." The Court granted the petition on that question.

The indictments state that petitioner distributed a quantity of crack cocaine "while within a radius of one-half mile of the

343 S.C. 346
grounds of Anne's Day Care Center, in violation of § 44-53-445."

ISSUE

Did the trial court lack subject matter jurisdiction on the charges for distribution within proximity of a school?

DISCUSSION

Petitioner argues that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to accept his guilty pleas to the three counts of distribution of crack cocaine within proximity of a school because the indictments stated that the distribution took place within proximity of "Anne's Day Care Center." Petitioner contends that because day care centers are not schools, the indictments fail to state the necessary elements of the offense. We agree.

Initially, we note that the State argues petitioner is precluded from raising a subject matter jurisdiction argument because the issue of subject matter jurisdiction has been litigated once before and ruled upon by this Court. We are unpersuaded by the State's procedural argument.

The jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter of a proceeding is fundamental. Anderson v. Anderson, 299 S.C. 110, 115, 382 S.E.2d 897, 900 (1989). "Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, even by consent of the parties, and should be taken notice of by this Court." Id. It is well-settled that issues related to subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time, including for the first time on appeal in this Court. Carter v. State, 329 S.C. 355, 495 S.E.2d 773 (1998); State v. Funderburk, 259 S.C. 256, 191 S.E.2d 520 (1972). Furthermore, "[t]he acts of a court with respect to a matter as to which it has no jurisdiction are void." Funderburk, 259 S.C. at 261, 191 S.E.2d at 522.

While it is true that both this Court and the PCR court have addressed subject matter jurisdiction arguments related to the code sections in the indictments, neither this Court nor the PCR court has addressed the precise challenge now at issue. Since subject matter jurisdiction is an issue which is fundamental and may be raised at any time, we

343 S.C. 347
decline to find that our review of this issue is precluded on procedural grounds. Carter v. State, supra; ...

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31 practice notes
  • State v. Gentry, No. 25949.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 7, 2005
    ...338 S.C. 139, 526 S.E.2d 222 (2000); and that issues related to subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time. Brown v. State, 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846 (2001). The lack of subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, even by consent of the parties, and should be taken notice o......
  • State v. Dudley, No. 3641.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 14, 2003
    ...matter jurisdiction may not be waived, even by consent of the parties, and should be taken notice of by this Court. Brown v. State, 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846 An indictment is sufficient to confer jurisdiction if the offense is stated with sufficient certainty and particularity to enable ......
  • United States v. Hope, 20-4420
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 9, 2022
    ...grounds of an elementary, middle, secondary or vocational school; public playground or park; or college or university." Brown v. State, 540 S.E.2d 846, 849 (2001) (emphasis added), overruled on other grounds by State v. Gentry, 610 S.E.2d 494 (2005) (holding that indictments' failure to all......
  • United States v. Hope, 20-4420
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 9, 2022
    ...grounds of an elementary, middle, secondary or vocational school; public playground or park; or college or university." Brown v. State , 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846, 849 (2001) (emphasis added), overruled on other grounds by State v. Gentry , 363 S.C. 93, 610 S.E.2d 494 (2005) (holding tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • State v. Gentry, No. 25949.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 7, 2005
    ...338 S.C. 139, 526 S.E.2d 222 (2000); and that issues related to subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time. Brown v. State, 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846 (2001). The lack of subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, even by consent of the parties, and should be taken notice o......
  • State v. Dudley, No. 3641.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 14, 2003
    ...matter jurisdiction may not be waived, even by consent of the parties, and should be taken notice of by this Court. Brown v. State, 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846 An indictment is sufficient to confer jurisdiction if the offense is stated with sufficient certainty and particularity to enable ......
  • United States v. Hope, 20-4420
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 9, 2022
    ...grounds of an elementary, middle, secondary or vocational school; public playground or park; or college or university." Brown v. State, 540 S.E.2d 846, 849 (2001) (emphasis added), overruled on other grounds by State v. Gentry, 610 S.E.2d 494 (2005) (holding that indictments' failure to all......
  • United States v. Hope, 20-4420
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 9, 2022
    ...grounds of an elementary, middle, secondary or vocational school; public playground or park; or college or university." Brown v. State , 343 S.C. 342, 540 S.E.2d 846, 849 (2001) (emphasis added), overruled on other grounds by State v. Gentry , 363 S.C. 93, 610 S.E.2d 494 (2005) (holding tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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