State v. Sellers, No. 19292

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLEWIS; MOSS
Citation183 S.E.2d 889,257 S.C. 35
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Cleveland Louis SELLERS, Jr., Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 19292
Decision Date28 September 1971

Page 889

183 S.E.2d 889
257 S.C. 35
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Cleveland Louis SELLERS, Jr., Appellant.
No. 19292.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Sept. 28, 1971.

[257 S.C. 36]

Page 890

Fred Henderson, Moore, Charleston, and Howard Moore, Jr., Atlanta, Ga., for appellant.

Sol. Julian S. Wolfe, Orangeburg, Atty. Gen., [257 S.C. 37] Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Atty. Gen. J. C. Coleman, Columbia, for respondent.

[257 S.C. 38] LEWIS, Justice.

Appellant, Cleveland Louis Sellers, has appealed from his conviction of the offense of common law riot. He contends that the lower court should have entered a judgment of acquittal upon the grounds that (1) there was no evidence to sustain his conviction and (2) he was deprived of a speedy trial. Alternately, he seeks a new trial upon the grounds that the trial judge erred in (a) refusing a motion for mistrial because appellants character was unlawfully and prejudicially placed in issue, (b) refusing to permit prospective jurors to be questioned as to the existence of racial prejudice and bias against the appellant, (c) refusing to excuse jurors who stated, in answer to voir dire questions, that they believed law enforcement officers more likely to tell the truth, and (d) refusing to quash the indictment on the ground of racial discrimination in the composition of the grand and petit juries.

We consider first appellant's contention that there was no evidence to sustain his conviction of common law riot which is defined in our decisions as 'a tumultous disturbance of the peace, by three or more persons assembled together, of their own authority, with the intent mutually to assist each other against any one who shall oppose them, and putting their design into execution in a terrific and violent manner, whether the object was lawful or not.' State v. Connolly, 3 Rich. 337, 338. This definition was recently under attack on constitutional grounds in Abernathy v. Conroy, 4 Cir., 429 F.2d 1170, where the offense was analyzed in the light of our decisions.

The charges against appellant grew out of his alleged participation in a riot at or near a racially segregated bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on February 6, 1968. On that occasion, officers were injured by those rioting and extensive damage was done to property. Appellant was present in the crowd at the time. The fact that there [257 S.C. 39] was a riot in which a large number of people participated is not questioned. Appellant's contention is that, although he was present, there was no evidence that he personally committed an act of violence and, therefore, he could not be guilty of the crime of riot.

While it is true that there was no evidence of any act of violence committed personally by appellant, there was testimony that he was seen moving about in the crowd, from group to group, talking to each group, and that, as he would communicate with them, 'they woudl become boisterous, demanding, threatening, hollering some obscenities.' As he would move about the crowd and talk to the various groups, 'the situation continuously deteriorated and from a standpoint of law and order, it got worse and worse.' One officer testified that, during the riot, appellant 'got on the back of an automobile * * *. At this time Cleveland Sellers (appellant) said, 'Burn baby, burn, burn' and pointed toward the A. and P. store * * *. There were matches being struck, cigarette lighters flashing and in the meantime, there were some of the people edging down toward the entrance to the bowling alley.' The acts of violence, resulting in injury to officers and damage to property, followed the above activities of appellant.

The principle is well settled that all persons, who are present, aiding and abetting in the commission of a misdemeanor, are principals. In accordance with that rule, 'any person who encourages, incites, promotes, or takes part in a riot is guilty of riot as a principal.' 54 Am.Jur. (2d), Mobs and Riots, Section 20.

There is ample evidence to sustain the inference that the conduct of appellant encouraged,

Page 891

incited, and promoted the riot. Such participation sustains the finding that appellant was guilty of the crime as charged.

The second question concerns...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 practice notes
  • State v. Bad Heart Bull, Nos. 11531
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 16 Septiembre 1977
    ...promotes, or actively participates in a riot is guilty as a principal. People v. Moore,87 Cal.2d 753, 197 P.2d 835; State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889, cert. den. 410 U.S. 908, 93 S.Ct. 967, 35 L.Ed.2d 269. It necessarily is a group crime requiring proof of a common or mutual cri......
  • State v. Ham, No. 19454
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 1972
    ...the refusal of the trial judge to propound the questions submitted by the appellant constituted an abuse of discretion. State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889. This exception of the appellant is While Mike Martin, a witness for the State, was under cross examination by counsel for th......
  • Sellers v. Boone, No. 19726
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 26 Noviembre 1973
    ...charging the offense of riot to the jury, which returned a verdict of guilty. His conviction was affirmed by this Court. State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889. [261 S.C. 464] A petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on January 22, 1973. ......
3 cases
  • State v. Bad Heart Bull, Nos. 11531
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 16 Septiembre 1977
    ...promotes, or actively participates in a riot is guilty as a principal. People v. Moore,87 Cal.2d 753, 197 P.2d 835; State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889, cert. den. 410 U.S. 908, 93 S.Ct. 967, 35 L.Ed.2d 269. It necessarily is a group crime requiring proof of a common or mutual cri......
  • State v. Ham, No. 19454
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 1972
    ...the refusal of the trial judge to propound the questions submitted by the appellant constituted an abuse of discretion. State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889. This exception of the appellant is While Mike Martin, a witness for the State, was under cross examination by counsel for th......
  • Sellers v. Boone, No. 19726
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 26 Noviembre 1973
    ...charging the offense of riot to the jury, which returned a verdict of guilty. His conviction was affirmed by this Court. State v. Sellers, 257 S.C. 35, 183 S.E.2d 889. [261 S.C. 464] A petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on January 22, 1973. ......

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