State v. Cutter, 19638

Decision Date18 June 1973
Docket NumberNo. 19638,19638
Citation199 S.E.2d 61,261 S.C. 140
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Ervin G. CUTTER and Fred Cutter, Appellants.

Robert G. Knight and E. Lee Morgan, of Hyman, Morgan, Brown & Blalock, Florence, for appellants.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Atty. Gen. John P. Wilson, Columbia, and Sol. T. Kenneth Summerford, Florence, for respondent.


The appellants, Ervin G. Cutter and Fred Cutter, are father and son. In April, 1972, they were convicted of having extorted money from one Kenneth Lawrence, a Florence physician, in violation of Section 16--566.1, Code of 1962. They were sentenced to imprisonment for ten years and have appealed on numerous exceptions, which have been argued under eight questions.

Dr. Lawrence had a lucrative medical practice, but he was continually in financial straits after a federal tax lien was filed against him in the early sixties. When he could no longer obtain credit from conventional sources, an extraordinary relationship began between the doctor and the elder Cutter, a railway employee, in which the latter soon was joined by his son. The Cutters, whose own wealth is not disclosed by the record, from time to time obtained funds in substantial amounts from banks, loan companies and other sources for the doctor's use in meeting his obligations and in making investments, from which, inferably, they expected to share profits. The Cutters made weekly collections from the doctor, in progressively larger amounts, for which, apparently, no accounting was made. According to the State's case, they dominated and intimidated him by dire threats of violence, accompanied by display of weapons, and by these means enforced their weekly collections of cash and obtained notes and checks for large sums of money from him. The details of this evidence need not be recited for its sufficiency to sustain the convictions is not challenged. According to the State's testimony, by March of 1972, when Dr. Lawrence finally resolved to appeal for help to legal authorities, the defendants had installed a woman in his office as his business manager and through her had taken over his very considerable receipts and disbursements.

The appellants were convicted and sentenced on Thursday, April 27, 1972. Thereupon, Mr. Knight, who had withdrawn as counsel during the trial when it appeared that he would be a witness for the defense, gave notice of intention to appeal and moved that bail be set. Mr. Keels, who was associated with Mr. Knight as trial counsel and who continued in this capacity after Mr. Knight's withdrawal, announced that he would not participate in the appeal. On the same day, court was adjourned sine die, and the presiding judge left the circuit. On the following Tuesday, May 2, Mr. Hyman, whose firm and Mr. Knight are counsel for appellants here, called the judge at his home and requested that he hear a motion for a new trial, to which the judge agreed. Such a motion was reduced to writing and served on the State on June 15. The motion was argued on June 21. The judge quite properly concluded that he had no jurisdiction to entertain the motion and dismissed it on this ground. However, he commented at some length on the grounds of the motion.

The first, fifth and seventh questions on this appeal have no support in the record except in these gratuitous remarks of the trial judge concerning a matter of which he had no jurisdiction. Even according to the statements in this order all of the weight to which they would be entitled if the judge had had jurisdiction of the case when it was issued, we find no error as assigned by these exceptions, certainly none to the prejudice of the appellants.

When it appeared that Mr. Knight, of trial counsel for appellants, was witness to the execution of a material document which Dr. Lawrence testified he had been forced to sign at gunpoint, the trial judge, in effect, required him to withdraw as counsel so that he might appear as a witness. By their second question the appellants urge that they were denied their right to a fair trial 'by the Court's failure to adequately explain to the jury the reason for counsel's withdrawal from the case.' We are satisfied that the court's statement to the jury concerning this matter was entirely adequate, and that appellants' concern that the jury may have received the impression that they were being abandoned by counsel is without reasonable foundation. The further argument that it was improper to require counsel to withdraw, to the prejudice of appellants' right to the effective assistance of counsel, is not raised by the sole exception on this point, which is of the tenor indicated above.

A switchboard operator at McLeod's Infirmary was examined and cross-examined at some length about a telephone...

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25 cases
  • State v. McAteer
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 21 Dicembre 1998
    ...McAteer. DISCUSSION Standard of Review In reviewing criminal cases, this court may review errors of law only. State v. Cutter, 261 S.C. 140, 199 S.E.2d 61 (1973). Absent evidence to the contrary, the regularity and legality of the proceedings in general sessions court is presumed. Weathers ......
  • State v. Humphries
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 6 Agosto 2001
    ...the admissibility of bad act evidence: In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only. State v. Cutter, 261 S.C. 140, 199 S.E.2d 61 (1973). We are bound by the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. State v. Quattlebaum, 338 S.C. 441, 527......
  • State v. Sweat
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 6 Dicembre 2004
    ...the admissibility of bad act evidence: `In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only. State v. Cutter 261 S.C. 140, 199 S.E.2d 61 (1973).'" State v. Humphries, 346 S.C. 435, 448, 551 S.E.2d 286, 293 (Ct.App.2001) (Anderson, concurring) rev'd on other grounds, 354......
  • State v. Northcutt
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • 20 Febbraio 2007
    ...reversal of the death sentence? STANDARD OF REVIEW In criminal cases, this Court sits to review errors of law only. State v. Cutter, 261 S.C. 140, 199 S.E.2d 61 (1973). This Court is bound by the trial judge's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. State v. Wilson, 345 S.C. 1, ......
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