State v. Thomas, 20390

Decision Date28 March 1977
Docket NumberNo. 20390,20390
Citation234 S.E.2d 16,268 S.C. 343
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Robert Tobias THOMAS, Appellant.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Daniel A. Speights, Hampton, and Thomas H. Pope, III, of Glenn, Porter & Sullivan, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Attys. Gen. Joseph R. Barker and Richard P. Wilson, Columbia, and Sol. Mike S. Jolly, Union, for respondent.


The appellant, Robert Tobias Thomas, and Atlas Key were tried and convicted of armed robbery on July 23, 1969, in York County. Their conviction was subsequently affirmed by this Court. State v. Key, 256 S.C. 90, 180 S.E.2d 888 (1971). Thereafter, by order of the Honorable Charles E. Simons, Jr., United States District Court, dated February 17, 1975, the appellant was granted a new trial. Thomas v. Leeke, 393 F.Supp. 282 (D.S.C.1975).

In April, 1975, the appellant was retried in York County. He was convicted and sentenced to 21 years, with credit given for time served since 1969. Notice of appeal was timely given and a transcript of record was filed with this Court in November, 1975. In December, 1975, the appellant's appeal was suspended and jurisdiction returned to the lower court so that the appellant could make a motion for a new trial based on after-discovered evidence. After a full evidentiary hearing was held in January, 1976, the new trial was denied. On February 5, 1976, the appellant filed an application for post-conviction relief. By consent of the parties, this application was submitted to the lower court on the record made up at the appellant's motion for a new trial based upon after-discovered evidence. This application for post-conviction relief was also denied.

The present appeal is from the appellant's conviction in April, 1975, from the denial of appellant's motion for a new trial, and from the denial of the appellant's application for post-conviction relief. All questions argued in appellant's brief are discussed without indicating the case from which the issues arise.

The appellant first argues that he was denied his right to trial by an impartial jury in that (1) the lower court failed to grant appellant's motion for change of venue, (2) certain jurors were not disqualified for cause, and (3) a new trial was not granted when it was later discovered that the husband of a juror at the second trial was the jury foreman at the appellant's first trial, and that prejudicial, inadmissible facts were discussed in the jury room. We discuss each of these contentions separately.

In support of his motion for a change of venue, counsel for appellant submitted an affidavit to the trial court which incorporated numerous newspaper articles that appeared around the time of the appellant's first trial, approximately six years prior to the retrial. In addition, the affidavit strongly emphasized the import of an unprecedented courtroom disturbance created by the appellant and Key during the first trial at the time the jury verdicts were announced. Nevertheless, no newspaper articles or broadcasts of a contemporary nature were submitted to the trial court in support of the motion, nor were there any affidavits from community members to the effect that they did not believe the appellant could receive a fair trial at that particular time.

While it is true that in 1969 this case received perhaps more than its rightful share of publicity, the appellant fails to point up any real significance it may have had in 1975. It is clear from the record that several members of the jury panel had, in fact, some recollection of the first trial and certain related events; it is not established that such recollection prevented the appellant from receiving a fair trial in York County.

It is well settled in this state that a motion for a change of venue is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge and a decision on the motion will not be reversed on appeal absent a showing of abuse of that discretion. State v. Fuller, 227 S.C. 138, 87 S.E.2d 287 (1955). Our review of the record reveals no such abuse.

The appellant next assigns error to the trial court's failure to disqualify three prospective jurors for cause. Again, it is the rule of this State that absent manifest error, the trial court's discretion in passing upon the neutrality of a juror should not be disturbed. State v. Middleton, 207 S.C. 478, 36 S.E.2d 742 (1946).

The challenged jurors had heard of the case and some of the details. Two jurors, however, stated that they had not formed any concrete opinion about the guilt or innocence of the appellant. While admitting that he had formed such...

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10 cases
  • Atkins v. Moore, C.A. No. 3:96-2859-22 (D. S.C. 6/10/1997)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • June 10, 1997
    ...grounds that it was an attempt to impeach the jury's verdict under Barsh v. Chrysler Corp., 203 S.E.2d 107 (S.C. 1974); and State v. Thomas, 234 S.E.2d 16 (S.C. 1977). However, pursuant to Rule 43(c), SCRCP, the postconviction judge allowed a full proffer to be made. Moreover, the postconvi......
  • State v. Aldret
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 4, 1999
    ...state that a juror's testimony is not admissible in order to prove either his own misconduct or that of fellow jurors. State v. Thomas, 268 S.C. 343, 234 S.E.2d 16 (1977); Barsh v. Chrysler Corp., 262 S.C. 129, 203 S.E.2d 107 (1974). Recently, however, this Court has moved away from the tra......
  • State v. Jones
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • April 4, 1988
    ...juror could "render a just verdict based on the evidence adduced at trial, without regard to any preconceived ideas." State v. Thomas, 268 S.C. 343, 234 S.E.2d 16 (1977). Moreover, it is clear from the entire colloquy with Mr. Barrineau that he would not automatically impose the death penal......
  • State v. Hunter
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • September 20, 1995
    ...305 S.C. 45, 406 S.E.2d 315 (1991). AFFIRMED. FINNEY, C.J., and TOAL, MOORE and BURNETT, JJ., concur. 1 See, e.g., State v. Thomas, 268 S.C. 343, 234 S.E.2d 16 (1977); Barsh v. Chrysler Corp., 262 S.C. 129, 203 S.E.2d 107 (1974); State v. Wells, 249 S.C. 249, 153 S.E.2d 904 (1967); State v.......
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