State v. Newell, No. 1592

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtGOOLSBY; SANDERS, C.J., and GARDNER
Citation303 S.C. 471,401 S.E.2d 420
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Victoria Bennett NEWELL, Appellant. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 1592
Decision Date03 December 1990

Page 420

401 S.E.2d 420
303 S.C. 471
The STATE, Respondent,
Victoria Bennett NEWELL, Appellant.
No. 1592.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard Dec. 3, 1990.
Decided Jan. 7, 1991.
Certiorari Denied April 24, 1991.

Page 421

[303 S.C. 472] William G. Rhoden, Gaffney, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Attys. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr. and William Edgar Salter, III, Columbia, and Sol. Holman C. Gossett, Jr., Spartanburg, for respondent.


Victoria Bennett Newell appeals her conviction by a jury for driving under the influence (DUI). The questions on appeal relate to the trial judge's failure to disqualify the venire from which her jury panel was chosen, his failure to suppress statements made by Newell following her arrest, and his allowance of the breathalyzer checklist in evidence.

On November 24, 1988, at around 7:00 a.m., Trooper D.R. Porter arrived at the scene of a traffic accident that had occurred in Cherokee County on Interstate-85 in the northbound lane. One of the automobiles involved belonged to Newell, its only occupant. Trooper Porter, the first officer on the scene, found Newell seated in the driver's seat behind the steering wheel of her car, her clothes in disarray and the odor of alcohol about her person. Newell, who did not appear injured, identified herself to Trooper Porter as the car's driver. When Trooper Porter asked Newell to step from the car, "she [303 S.C. 473] was staggering." Trooper Porter, who concluded Newell was under the influence, placed her under arrest at about 7:35 a.m., charging her with DUI. He then assisted her into the patrol car of a second highway patrolman.

Page 422

Like Trooper Porter, the second officer, Sergeant John L. Canty, also smelled the odor of alcohol about Newell. After Newell got out of her car, Sergeant Canty saw her "wobbling" and walking "weavey-like." He had "no doubt ... in [his] mind that she was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage."

Sergeant Canty drove Newell to the Cherokee County jail in Gaffney. There, Sergeant G.L. Yarborough of the Highway Patrol administered a breathalyzer test to Newell at around 8:57 a.m. The test placed Newell's blood alcohol level at 0.17 per cent. Newell seemed to Sergeant Yarborough to be overly talkative. He detected about her a "very strong odor of some alcoholic beverage coming from her breath and her person" and he observed Newell "was very unsteady on her feet." He believed Newell to be "very much under the influence."

The Cherokee County Grand Jury later indicted Newell for second offense DUI.


Newell maintains the trial judge committed prejudicial error in denying her pretrial motion to quash the venire from which the jury panel that heard her case was selected. She alleges the venire was "tainted" because it was present in the courtroom when, just prior to the selection of the jury panel in her case, a defendant, who had been indicted on three counts of felony DUI after being involved in a vehicular accident and registering a breathalyzer reading lower than the reading recorded by Newell, entered a nolo contendere plea.

Newell's contention regarding the venire has no merit whatever. There is a complete absence of any evidence that anyone on the venire was so affected by the plea proceedings in the felony DUI case that he or she in Newell's case " '[could not] render a just verdict based on the evidence adduced at trial, without regard to preconceived ideas.' " State v. Jones, 298 S.C. 118, 121, 378 S.E.2d 594, 596 (1989) cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 1534, 108 L.Ed.2d 773 (1990), quoting State v. Thomas, 268 S.C. 343, 348, 234 S.E.2d 16, 18 (1977).

[303 S.C. 474] In an attempt to determine the competence of all members of the venire to serve on the jury panel in Newell's case, the trial judge examined the venire on voir dire. He asked them, among other things, whether any one of them opposed alcohol consumption, held membership in any organization opposed to driving and drinking, had formed an opinion concerning Newell's guilt or innocence, and knew of any reason why he or she could not give both the State and Newell a fair and impartial trial. Newell challenged none of the jurors for cause, including the two who responded to the trial judge's questions. Also, when the trial judge asked Newell's counsel whether he had "[a]nything further," counsel replied, "[n]othing, your Honor."

The fact that the venire was present when the court accepted a nolo contendere plea in an unrelated, though similar, DUI case afforded no basis, without more, for disqualifying the venire members from serving on the jury panel in Newell's DUI case. See St. John v. Commercial Union Insurance Co., 719 F.2d 374 (11th Cir.1983) (jurors are not disqualified from having served on a prior similar case involving different parties); United States v. Franklin, 700 F.2d 1241 (10th Cir.1983) (a person who sat on a similar criminal case before being selected for the case on which he is challenged cannot be dismissed unless the person is shown to be biased); Lang v. Murch, 438 A.2d 914 (Me.1981) (prior jury service on a similar but unrelated case does not automatically disqualify a prospective juror from service); State v. Charlot, 157 W.Va. 994, 206 S.E.2d 908 (1974) (a defendant in a drug sale prosecution is not entitled to have the entire panel of jurors stricken even...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 cases
  • State v. Salisbury, 2792.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 17 Febrero 1998
    ...disclosure rules are within the discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion); State v. Newell, 303 S.C. 471, 401 S.E.2d 420 (Ct.App.1991)(adverse orders regarding discovery may be reviewed on appeal, but they must be affirmed unless the trial court ......
  • State v. Easler, 2512
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 2 Abril 1996
    ...the record contains overwhelming evidence of Easler's guilt independent of his statements to Officer McCall. Cf. State v. Newell, 303 S.C. 471, 401 S.E.2d 420 (Ct.App.1991) (although the trial judge erred in not suppressing Sergeant Canty's testimony regarding Newell's in-custody statements......
  • State v. Easler, 24655
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 3 Junio 1997
    ...of the interrogation, any error in the failure to suppress his statements was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Newell, 303 S.C. 471, 401 S.E.2d 420 (Ct.App.1991) (failure to suppress evidence for Miranda violation Page 622 harmless where record contains overwhelming evidence......
  • State v. Proctor, 3414.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 3 Diciembre 2001
    ...regarding discovery may be reviewed on appeal but they must be affirmed unless the trial court abused its discretion. See State v. Newell, 303 S.C. 471, 401 S.E.2d 420 Trial Court's Finding of Competency to Stand Trial On appeal, this Court will affirm a trial court's determination of compe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT