State v. Gunter, No. 22379

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtFINNEY
Citation335 S.E.2d 542,286 S.C. 556
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Jimmy Lee GUNTER, Appellant. . Heard
Decision Date03 June 1985
Docket NumberNo. 22379

Page 542

335 S.E.2d 542
286 S.C. 556
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Jimmy Lee GUNTER, Appellant.
No. 22379.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard June 3, 1985.
Decided Oct. 2, 1985.

[286 S.C. 557] Asst. Appellate Defender Tara D. Shurling of S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Atty. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr., Staff Atty. Amie L. Clifford, and Sol. James C. Anders, Columbia, for respondent.

FINNEY, Acting Associate Justice:

The appellant, Jimmy Lee Gunter, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and received a thirty year sentence. He appeals alleging that the trial judge coerced him into testifying at trial, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits compelled self-[286 S.C. 558] incrimination. In addition, the appellant alleges error in the introduction of certain statements and the refusal of the court to allow the introduction of psychiatric testimony concerning the voluntariness of his confession. We reverse.

During trial, at the request of the appellant's attorney and out of the presence of the jury, the trial judge questioned Mr. Gunter as to whether or not he wished to take the stand in his own defense. Mr. Gunter now contends that this conversation amounted to official coercion and induced

Page 543

him to testify in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The pertinent portion of the dialogue between the trial judge and the appellant is as follows:

The Court: Do you understand that you have the right to testify in this trial if you want to?

Mr. Gunter: Yes, Sir.

The Court: You understand that you do not have to testify if you don't want to?

Mr. Gunter: Yes, Sir.

The Court: Either way, it would be basically your decision, do you understand that?

Mr. Gunter: Yes, Sir.

The Court: There is some benefits either way you go, and there are oftentimes severe detriments, that is, it's going to work against you either way you go. Do you understand that?

Mr. Gunter: Yes.

The Court: If you do not testify, you know that that jury is going to hold it against you. You know that, don't you? (Emphasis added)

Mr. Gunter: If I don't testify?

The Court: If you do not testify. You know that?

The Court: You know that if there are twelve people sitting up there trying to decide if you are guilty or innocent and you don't say a word about it, they're likely to hold it against you; don't you know that? Wouldn't you if you were on a jury? (Emphasis added)

Mr. Gunter: Yes, Sir. If they think I'm innocent--

The Court: I'm going to tell them not to hold...

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15 practice notes
  • State v. Drayton, No. 22778
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...to comment upon a defendant's failure to testify. See also State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 [293 S.C. 424] The remarks here were imprudent and we caution that such comments to jurors should be avoided in the future. However,......
  • People v. Lucas, Docket No. 69923
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 24, 1992
    ...that the court exceeded the scope of its authority with these statements. Defendant refers to the opinion in State v. Gunter (1985), 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542, in support of his position. In Gunter, the trial court warned the defendant that "[i]f you do not testify, you know that that ju......
  • State v. Jenkins, 28089
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...and funding. In the March 7 hearing, the trial court heard and resolved Jenkins' concerns about his counsel. [7] See State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 559-60, 335 S.E.2d 542, 543 (1985) (explaining a trial court must inform the defendant of his choices accurately and stating, "A statement by t......
  • McWee v. State, No. 25780.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 27, 2004
    ...State v. Cooper, 291 S.C. 332, 353 S.E.2d 441 (1986); State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 357 S.C. 407 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 Subsequently, Butler filed a habeas petition on the basis the trial judge had coerced him into testifying.2 The Court noted ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • State v. Drayton, No. 22778
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...to comment upon a defendant's failure to testify. See also State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 [293 S.C. 424] The remarks here were imprudent and we caution that such comments to jurors should be avoided in the future. However,......
  • People v. Lucas, Docket No. 69923
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 24, 1992
    ...that the court exceeded the scope of its authority with these statements. Defendant refers to the opinion in State v. Gunter (1985), 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542, in support of his position. In Gunter, the trial court warned the defendant that "[i]f you do not testify, you know that that ju......
  • State v. Jenkins, 28089
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...and funding. In the March 7 hearing, the trial court heard and resolved Jenkins' concerns about his counsel. [7] See State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 559-60, 335 S.E.2d 542, 543 (1985) (explaining a trial court must inform the defendant of his choices accurately and stating, "A statement by t......
  • McWee v. State, No. 25780.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 27, 2004
    ...State v. Cooper, 291 S.C. 332, 353 S.E.2d 441 (1986); State v. Pierce, 289 S.C. 430, 346 S.E.2d 357 S.C. 407 707 (1986); State v. Gunter, 286 S.C. 556, 335 S.E.2d 542 Subsequently, Butler filed a habeas petition on the basis the trial judge had coerced him into testifying.2 The Court noted ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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