Thompson v. Aiken, No. 22080

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLEWIS
Citation315 S.E.2d 110,281 S.C. 239
PartiesAlbert THOMPSON, Appellant, v. James AIKEN, Warden, Respondent.
Decision Date10 April 1984
Docket NumberNo. 22080

Page 110

315 S.E.2d 110
281 S.C. 239
Albert THOMPSON, Appellant,
v.
James AIKEN, Warden, Respondent.
No. 22080.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Submitted Jan. 9, 1984.
Decided April 10, 1984.

David I. Bruck, Columbia, H.W. Pat Paschal, Jr., Greenville, and S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock and Asst. Atty. Gen. Donald J. Zelenka, Columbia, for respondent.

LEWIS, Chief Justice:

This matter is before the Court upon a writ of certiorari after post-conviction relief was denied by the trial court. The petitioner was convicted of murder in the commission of [281 S.C. 240] robbery while armed with a deadly weapon. Section 16-3-20(C)(a)(1)(e), Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976. This Court thereafter affirmed the conviction and sentence of death on direct appeal. State v. Thompson, 278 S.C. 1, 292 S.E.2d 581, cert. denied, 456 U.S. 938, 102 S.Ct. 1996, 72 L.Ed.2d 458.

We need deal with only a few of the numerous questions raised before the trial court. Foremost among the issues here presented is the closing argument of the Solicitor during the sentencing phase of appellant's trial. That was held in September 1980, and arguments on direct appeal were made before this Court in May 1981.

Subsequently, in the case of State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 284 S.E.2d 357, an appellant under sentence of death for the first time directed our attention to certain arguments of the Solicitor which had put before the jury his personal opinion, referring specifically to his own decision to seek the death penalty in the case. We held this argument to be prejudicial in that it introduced an arbitrary factor into the jury deliberations. In a series of later cases we have been constrained to reach the same conclusion. State v. Butler, 277 S.C. 543, 545, 290 S.E. 420; State v. Sloan, 278 S.C. 435, 441, 298 S.E.2d 92; State v. Smart, 278 S.C. 515, 526-527, 299 S.E.2d 686, cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 1784, 76 L.Ed.2d 353; State v. Koon, 278 S.C. 528, 538, 298 S.E.2d 769.

We have closely studied the arguments of the Solicitor in the present case and are unable to distinguish them from those held to constitute arbitrary factors in these recent cases. We conclude that the trial court erred in ruling that the Solicitor's closing statement was not prejudicial. Accordingly, we grant the petitioner's request for a new trial as to sentence. In light of this holding, it is not necessary to address petitioner's remaining objections to the Solicitor's arguments. Such matters as threats to repeal the death penalty statute and insinuations that a not guilty plea shows lack of remorse have already been

Page 111

held improper in recent decisions. State v. Sloan, supra; State v. Smart, supra. We assume that these holdings will govern the...

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7 practice notes
  • State v. Northcutt, No. 26271.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...same error by the same solicitor), overruled on other grounds by State v. Torrence, 305 S.C. 45, 406 S.E.2d 315 (1991); Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 (1984) (finding prejudicial error where prosecutor's argument put his personal opinion before the jury regarding the death ......
  • Drayton v. Evatt, No. 23852
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 9, 1993
    ...Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84 (1986), rev'd, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988), and Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 (1984), as examples of this Court's implicit acceptance of in favorem vitae review in post-conviction relief S.C.Code Ann. § 17-......
  • State v. Burkhart, No. 26243.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 8, 2007
    ...277 S.C. 170, 174-75, 284 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1981). 8. This principle has consistently re-appeared in our precedent. See Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 240, 315 S.E.2d 110, 110 (1984); State v. Sloan, 278 S.C. 435, 438, 298 S.E.2d 92, 93 (1982); State v. Smart, 278 S.C. 515, 517, 299 S.E.2d......
  • State v. Hawkins, No. 22725
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 5, 1987
    ...State v. Sloan, 278 S.C. 435, 298 S.E.2d 92 (1982); accord: State v. Brown, 289 S.C. 581, 347 S.E.2d 882 (1986); Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 This Court ruled in State v. Sloan, supra, two years before this case was tried, that it was inappropriate for the solicitor to co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • State v. Northcutt, No. 26271.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...same error by the same solicitor), overruled on other grounds by State v. Torrence, 305 S.C. 45, 406 S.E.2d 315 (1991); Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 (1984) (finding prejudicial error where prosecutor's argument put his personal opinion before the jury regarding the death ......
  • Drayton v. Evatt, No. 23852
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 9, 1993
    ...Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84 (1986), rev'd, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988), and Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 (1984), as examples of this Court's implicit acceptance of in favorem vitae review in post-conviction relief S.C.Code Ann. § 17-......
  • State v. Burkhart, No. 26243.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 8, 2007
    ...277 S.C. 170, 174-75, 284 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1981). 8. This principle has consistently re-appeared in our precedent. See Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 240, 315 S.E.2d 110, 110 (1984); State v. Sloan, 278 S.C. 435, 438, 298 S.E.2d 92, 93 (1982); State v. Smart, 278 S.C. 515, 517, 299 S.E.2d......
  • State v. Hawkins, No. 22725
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 5, 1987
    ...State v. Sloan, 278 S.C. 435, 298 S.E.2d 92 (1982); accord: State v. Brown, 289 S.C. 581, 347 S.E.2d 882 (1986); Thompson v. Aiken, 281 S.C. 239, 315 S.E.2d 110 This Court ruled in State v. Sloan, supra, two years before this case was tried, that it was inappropriate for the solicitor to co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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