Williams v. Ozmint, No. 26573.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtToal
Citation380 S.C. 473,671 S.E.2d 600
Docket NumberNo. 26573.
Decision Date22 December 2008
PartiesLuke A. WILLIAMS III, Petitioner, v. Jon OZMINT, Commissioner, South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent.
671 S.E.2d 600
380 S.C. 473
Luke A. WILLIAMS III, Petitioner,
v.
Jon OZMINT, Commissioner, South Carolina Department of Corrections, Respondent.
No. 26573.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard October 22, 2008.
Decided December 22, 2008.
Rehearing Denied January 22, 2009.

David I. Bruck, of Lexington, VA, Keir M. Weyble, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, of Columbia, for Respondent.

[671 S.E.2d 601]

Chief Justice TOAL:


Petitioner Luke A. Williams was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Petitioner has exhausted his appeals and now seeks a writ of habeas corpus from this Court based on our decision in State v. Northcutt, 372 S.C. 207, 641 S.E.2d 873 (2007).

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1993, a jury found Petitioner guilty of the murders of his wife and son. During the sentencing phase, the solicitor stated three times that he "expected" the death penalty. Defense counsel did not object, and the jury sentenced Petitioner to death.

Petitioner's convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Williams, 321 S.C. 327, 468 S.E.2d 626 (1996). Petitioner applied for post-conviction relief (PCR) raising three issues. The PCR court granted relief on the third ground.1 However, this Court reversed, finding lack of prejudice. Williams v. State, 363 S.C. 341, 611 S.E.2d 232 (2005). The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina granted Petitioner a writ of habeas corpus, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's decision. Williams v. Ozmint, 494 F.3d 478 (4th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1445, 170 L.Ed.2d 278 (2008).

Petitioner now seeks issuance of a writ of habeas corpus based on this Court's decision in State v. Northcutt, 372 S.C. 207, 641 S.E.2d 873 (2007), in which this Court reversed the defendant's death sentence based upon the solicitor's improper statements in the sentencing phase.

LAW/ANALYSIS

Petitioner argues that he is entitled to habeas relief because the solicitor improperly stated that he "expected" the death penalty during his sentencing argument. We disagree.

At common law, habeas relief was only available to a convicted defendant to attack the jurisdiction of the court imposing the sentence. See Ex parte Klugh, 132 S.C. 199, 128 S.E. 882 (1925) (recognizing that habeas corpus is a collateral remedy and calls in question only the jurisdiction of the court whose judgment is challenged). However, during the 1950s and 1960s, South Carolina courts greatly expanded the use of the writ in order to ensure that our state afforded prisoners a proceeding where they could assert claims regarding constitutional violations. See Simpson v. State, 329 S.C. 43, 44, 495 S.E.2d 429, 430 (1998) (recognizing that the appeals in habeas matters increased between 1950 and 1970 apparently in response to United States Supreme Court decisions relating to the exhaustion of state remedies requirement for federal habeas corpus relief). In 1969, South Carolina adopted our version of the Uniform Post-Conviction Relief Act (UPCA), which drastically limited the availability of habeas corpus. See James Blume, note, An Introduction to Post-Conviction Remedies, Practice and Procedure in South Carolina 45 S.C.L.Rev. 235, 263 (recognizing that following the adoption of the UPCA, post-conviction relief largely replaced habeas corpus relief). The UPCA directed that post conviction relief (PCR) was to encompass the relief available under the common law writ of habeas corpus, the relief available under the expansion of the writ, and the relief available by collateral attack under any common law, statutory or other writ, motion, petition, proceeding, or remedy. See Simpson, 329 S.C. at 44, 495 S.E.2d at 430; S.C.Code Ann. § 17-27-20(b) (2007).

In a PCR proceeding, a defendant collaterally attacks his conviction and may raise any claims of constitutional violations relating to his conviction. See S.C.Code Ann. § 17-27-20(a) (2007). Every applicant has the right to appellate review of the denial of PCR, and every applicant is entitled to the assistance of counsel in seeking review of the denial of PCR. Bray v. State, 366 S.C. 137, 139-40, 620 S.E.2d 743 (2005). Counsel is required to advise a PCR applicant of the right to appellate review of the denial of PCR and to brief arguable issues to safeguard the right to appeal, despite counsel's

671 S.E.2d 602

belief that the appeal is frivolous. Id. Although successive PCR applications are disfavored, they are not prohibited.2 See Washington v. State, 324 S.C. 232, 478 S.E.2d 833 (1996) (allowing successive PCR application where the defendant was denied due process due to numerous procedural irregularities); Aice v. State, 305 S.C. 448, 409 S.E.2d 392 (1991) (denying a successive PCR application where the defendant failed to show a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 practice notes
  • Moore v. Stirling, 28088
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...including all direct appeals and PCR, habeas corpus relief remains available to prisoners in South Carolina." Williams v. Ozmint, 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) (citing S.C. Const. art. I, § 18); see also Simpson v. State, 329 S.C. 43, 46 n.4, 495 S.E.2d 429, 431 n.4 (19......
  • Moore v. Stirling, Appellate Case No. 2020-001519
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...including all direct appeals and PCR, habeas corpus relief remains available to prisoners in South Carolina." Williams v. Ozmint , 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) (citing S.C. Const. art. I, § 18 ); see also Simpson v. State , 329 S.C. 43, 46 n.4, 495 S.E.2d 429, 431 n.4 ......
  • In re Chapman, Appellate Case No. 2014-001181
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 15, 2017
    ...serve only to ensure observance of fundamental constitutional rights that have been overlooked in prior proceedings. Williams v. Ozmint , 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) ; Aice v. State , 305 S.C. 448, 451, 409 S.E.2d 392, 394 (1991) (stating additional judicial review after P......
  • Terry v. Byars, C/A No. 4:12-1798-SB-TER
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • December 10, 2012
    ...application can be considered if "sufficient reason" why the new grounds were not raised before). Williams v. Ozmint, 380 S.C. 473, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 n. 1 (2008) ("In fact, Petitioner's PCR application mentioned above was successive. The PCR court allowed it to proceed on t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Moore v. Stirling, 28088
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...including all direct appeals and PCR, habeas corpus relief remains available to prisoners in South Carolina." Williams v. Ozmint, 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) (citing S.C. Const. art. I, § 18); see also Simpson v. State, 329 S.C. 43, 46 n.4, 495 S.E.2d 429, 431 n.4 (19......
  • Moore v. Stirling, Appellate Case No. 2020-001519
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 6, 2022
    ...including all direct appeals and PCR, habeas corpus relief remains available to prisoners in South Carolina." Williams v. Ozmint , 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) (citing S.C. Const. art. I, § 18 ); see also Simpson v. State , 329 S.C. 43, 46 n.4, 495 S.E.2d 429, 431 n.4 ......
  • In re Chapman, Appellate Case No. 2014-001181
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 15, 2017
    ...serve only to ensure observance of fundamental constitutional rights that have been overlooked in prior proceedings. Williams v. Ozmint , 380 S.C. 473, 477, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 (2008) ; Aice v. State , 305 S.C. 448, 451, 409 S.E.2d 392, 394 (1991) (stating additional judicial review after P......
  • Terry v. Byars, C/A No. 4:12-1798-SB-TER
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • December 10, 2012
    ...application can be considered if "sufficient reason" why the new grounds were not raised before). Williams v. Ozmint, 380 S.C. 473, 671 S.E.2d 600, 602 n. 1 (2008) ("In fact, Petitioner's PCR application mentioned above was successive. The PCR court allowed it to proceed on t......
  • 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