State v. Governor, 3925.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtSTILWELL, J.
Citation362 S.C. 609,608 S.E.2d 474
PartiesThe STATE, Appellant, v. Michael T. GOVERNOR, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 3925.,3925.
Decision Date24 January 2005

362 S.C. 609
608 S.E.2d 474

The STATE, Appellant,
Michael T. GOVERNOR, Respondent

No. 3925.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard December 8, 2004.

Decided January 24, 2005.

362 S.C. 610
Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Attorney General Norman Mark Rapoport, all of Columbia, and Solicitor Ralph E. Hoisington of Charleston, for Appellant

Assistant Appellate Defender Robert M. Pachak, of Columbia, for Respondent.

362 S.C. 611

The State appeals the trial court's suppression of seized drugs the State intended to admit in this drug prosecution. We reverse.


On Friday, June 7, 2002, South Carolina Highway Patrol Troopers Anthony Bokern and Marty Housand arrested Michael Governor for open container and trafficking crack cocaine. Governor was a passenger in a vehicle stopped for a window tint violation. While Housand dealt with the driver, who was driving under suspension, Bokern attempted to secure the scene. When Bokern began placing Governor under arrest for an open container violation, Governor reached for his back pocket to pull out a bag. Bokern seized the brown paper bag from Governor's pocket, glanced inside to make certain there was no weapon, and handed it to Housand.

The bag contained multiple clear plastic baggies. Housand weighed and field-tested the contents and obtained a positive result for crack cocaine. Housand did not have a BEST evidence bag with him at the time of the arrest so he placed the drugs in an unsealed evidence bag in the trunk of his patrol car.1 The drugs remained there over the weekend. On the following Monday morning when he returned to work, Housand placed the drugs in a BEST evidence bag. On Wednesday when he was visiting a fellow officer at a hospital in Columbia, he gave the drugs to the evidence custodian. The custodian's supervisor had set up a separate room in the hospital for the custodian to accept evidence while the officers were visiting their fellow patrolman in the hospital. The custodian transported the drugs to SLED that same day.

Governor was indicted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. The trial court held a suppression hearing regarding the drug evidence seized by the police. The trial court suppressed the evidence "based on [the officers'] failure to comply with their own guidelines." This appeal followed.

362 S.C. 612

The State claims the trial court erred in suppressing evidence of seized drugs because it established a sufficient chain of custody for the drugs. We agree.

A party offering fungible items, such as drugs, as evidence must establish a chain of custody as far as practicable. State v. Joseph, 328 S.C. 352, 364, 491 S.E.2d 275, 281 (Ct.App.1997). Where the substance passed...

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4 cases
  • State v. Hatcher, 4604.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 5, 2009 in the chain of possession by failing to establish the identity of each custodian at least as far as practicable. State v. Governor, 362 S.C. 609, 612, 608 S.E.2d 474, 475 First, the State argues Hatcher's objection at trial does not specifically mention the whereabouts of the drugs du......
  • State v. Fickens, 2007-UP-194
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 26, 2007
    ...of those who handled the blood was not established as far as practicable. Carter, 344 S.C. at 424, 544 S.E.2d at 837; State v. Governor, 362 S.C. 609, 612, 608 S.E.2d 474, 475 (Ct. App. 2005). However, our supreme court has recently noted that it has never held the chain of custody rule req......
  • Lenz v. Walsh, 3930.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 24, 2005
    ...that Lenz may not bring an action to enforce the contract pursuant to former section 40-59-130 since he was not licensed at the time the 362 S.C. 609 contract was entered into. At issue now is the Walshes' counterclaims. The Walshes argue the master's ruling that they could not recover on t......
  • State v. Morris, 2005-UP-380
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 13, 2005
    ...220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities: 1. The trial court did not err in admitting the cocaine into evidence: State v. Governor, 362 S.C. 609, 608 S.E.2d 474 (Ct. App. 2005) (holding a party offering fungible items into evidence must establish a chain of custody as far as practica......

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