State v. Huggins, No. 21281

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLITTLEJOHN; LEWIS; NESS; NESS
Citation275 S.C. 229,269 S.E.2d 334
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. James HUGGINS, Appellant.
Decision Date30 July 1980
Docket NumberNo. 21281

Page 334

269 S.E.2d 334
275 S.C. 229
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
James HUGGINS, Appellant.
No. 21281.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
July 30, 1980.

Page 335

[275 S.C. 230] Hugh W. Cannon, Hartsville, and Robert L. Kilgo, Darlington, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Atty. Gen. Brian P. Gibbes, Columbia, and Sol. J. DuPre Miller, Bennettsville, for respondent.

LITTLEJOHN, Justice:

James Huggins was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He appeals, asserting that certain hearsay testimony was improperly admitted and that the evidence gathered as the result of a warrantless search should have been excluded. We affirm.

[275 S.C. 231] Huggins was the proprietor of a public business in Hartsville known as the Sociable Club. On the afternoon of the arrest, a police officer's informant made a controlled purchase of marijuana at the club. The officer received this evidence and sent the informant back to the club while he attempted to contact a magistrate to procure a search warrant. About 30 to 60 minutes later, the informant returned to the police station and indicated that the marijuana was being sold at a rapid pace. Having been unable to contact a magistrate and fearing that the evidence would be dispersed, the police officer proceeded to enter and search the club without a warrant. The officer discovered over three ounces of marijuana, packaged for sale, in a brown paper bag behind the bar. Huggins, who was not present at the time of the search, was arrested later that day for being in constructive possession of the marijuana.

The first exception raised by Huggins maintains that certain hearsay evidence was improperly admitted at trial. The testimony in question was that of a police officer relating matters stated to him by the informant. Whether this testimony is hearsay or not is unimportant, since the informant later testified at the trial. As stated by Professor Wigmore:

"The theory of the hearsay rule is that the many possible deficiencies, suppressions, sources of error and untrustworthiness, which lie underneath the bare untested assertion of a witness, may be best brought to light and exposed by the test of cross-examination. . . . the hearsay rule, as accepted in our law, signifies a rule rejecting assertions, offered testimonially, which have not been in some way subjected to the test of cross-examination." 5 Wigmore, Evidence § 1362 (Chadbourn rev., 1974).

Accordingly, the admission of the testimony was rendered harmless by the subsequent testimony of the person who made the statement. He was available for cross-examination.

[275 S.C. 232] Huggins next asserts that the marijuana found during the warrantless search should have been excluded from evidence. We disagree. This court in State v. Peters, 271 S.C. 498, 248 S.E.2d 475 (1978), said:

"It is well settled that searches conducted without a warrant are per se unreasonable unless an exception to the warrant requirement is presented, and the burden is upon the State to justify a warrantless search." Footnote omitted, citing Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564 (1971).

The exceptions to the warrant requirement are based upon the conclusion that under certain situations the exigencies of a situation make an immediate search and seizure imperative. United States v. Hare, 589 F.2d 1291 (6th Cir. 1979). The facts and circumstances of each case must be examined to determine whether such exigent circumstances were present. We are convinced that the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident made this warrantless search reasonable.

There can be no doubt but that the police officer could have made a probable-cause showing before a judicial officer. An informant who had given him reliable information on previous occasions, reported to him ". . . that drugs were being sold in the business establishment known as the Sociable Club, . . ." Thereafter he sent the informant to make a purchase. He returned with ". . . a small bag of marijuana." Thereupon the officer sought, but

Page 336

was unable to find a judicial officer to issue a search warrant. His efforts to procure a warrant were obviously in good faith. It was not until after he failed to find a judicial officer that he proceeded with the search. He explains his action as follows:

"Well, from the information that I had found out the drugs were being sold fast and furious and we were afraid we were going to lose them, I mean we were afraid that they were going to be gone if we waited and allowed too much [275 S.C. 233] time to elapse....

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5 practice notes
  • Clark v. Ross, No. 0406
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 21, 1984
    ...at trial and is available for cross-examination. [284 S.C. 552] State v. Caldwell, S.C., 322 S.E.2d 662 (1984); State v. Huggins, 275 S.C. 229, 269 S.E.2d 334 We note also Dr. Sims testified at trial that he recognized Saturday morning upon examining Latreva her condition "was just sho......
  • State v. Key, Appellate Case No. 2017-001013
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 13, 2020
    ..., 374 S.C. 313, 319-20, 649 S.E.2d 479, 482 (2007) ; State v. Brown , 289 S.C. 581, 587, 347 S.E.2d 882, 885 (1986) ; State v. Huggins , 275 S.C. 229, 232, 269 S.E.2d 334, 335 (1980). Likewise, the United States Supreme Court and all state and lower federal courts have consistently held the......
  • State v. Harvey, No. 21280
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 30, 1980
    ...conviction is not so prejudicial as to require a new trial and its admission cannot be deemed to have denied appellant a fair trial. See [275 S.C. 229] State v. Spinks, 260 S.C. 404, 196 S.E.2d 313 (1973); State v. Knight, 258 S.C. 452, 189 S.E.2d 1 I would distinguish Hatchett v. State, 55......
  • State v. Plyler, No. 21297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 8, 1980
    ...rule, exclusion of relevant evidence serves no purpose. See Patterson v. State, 263 Ind. 55, 324 N.E.2d 482; State v. Huggins, S.C., 269 S.E.2d 334, The appellant also challenges as hearsay the admission of testimony of another witness present at the time which corroborates the aforemention......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Clark v. Ross, No. 0406
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 21, 1984
    ...at trial and is available for cross-examination. [284 S.C. 552] State v. Caldwell, S.C., 322 S.E.2d 662 (1984); State v. Huggins, 275 S.C. 229, 269 S.E.2d 334 We note also Dr. Sims testified at trial that he recognized Saturday morning upon examining Latreva her condition "was just sho......
  • State v. Key, Appellate Case No. 2017-001013
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 13, 2020
    ..., 374 S.C. 313, 319-20, 649 S.E.2d 479, 482 (2007) ; State v. Brown , 289 S.C. 581, 587, 347 S.E.2d 882, 885 (1986) ; State v. Huggins , 275 S.C. 229, 232, 269 S.E.2d 334, 335 (1980). Likewise, the United States Supreme Court and all state and lower federal courts have consistently held the......
  • State v. Harvey, No. 21280
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 30, 1980
    ...conviction is not so prejudicial as to require a new trial and its admission cannot be deemed to have denied appellant a fair trial. See [275 S.C. 229] State v. Spinks, 260 S.C. 404, 196 S.E.2d 313 (1973); State v. Knight, 258 S.C. 452, 189 S.E.2d 1 I would distinguish Hatchett v. State, 55......
  • State v. Plyler, No. 21297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 8, 1980
    ...rule, exclusion of relevant evidence serves no purpose. See Patterson v. State, 263 Ind. 55, 324 N.E.2d 482; State v. Huggins, S.C., 269 S.E.2d 334, The appellant also challenges as hearsay the admission of testimony of another witness present at the time which corroborates the aforemention......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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