Yates v. Aiken, No. 22614

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtNESS; FINNEY; FINNEY
Citation290 S.C. 231,349 S.E.2d 84
PartiesDale Robert YATES, Petitioner, v. James AIKEN, Warden, CCI, and the Attorney General, South Carolina, Respondents. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 22614
Decision Date26 March 1986

Page 84

349 S.E.2d 84
290 S.C. 231
Dale Robert YATES, Petitioner,
v.
James AIKEN, Warden, CCI, and the Attorney General, South
Carolina, Respondents.
No. 22614.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard March 26, 1986.
Decided Sept. 29, 1986.

[290 S.C. 232] David I. Bruck, and S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, for petitioner.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, and Chief Deputy Atty. Gen. Donald J. Zelenka, Columbia, for respondents.

NESS, Chief Justice:

This case is before us on remand from the United States Supreme Court for reconsideration

Page 85

of Yates' petition for writ of habeas corpus. The petition is denied.

Yates was convicted of murder and armed robbery in 1981 and was sentenced to death upon recommendation of a jury. This Court affirmed the conviction and sentence. State v. Yates, 280 S.C. 29, 310 S.E.2d 805 (1982), cert. den., 462 U.S. 1124, 103 S.Ct. 3098, 77 L.Ed.2d 1356 (1983). Yates' application for post conviction relief was denied, and he sought a writ of certiorari from this Court to review the decision of the circuit court. Yates also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the original jurisdiction of this Court alleging, for the first time, constitutional error in the jury instructions at trial. The petitions were consolidated and both were denied by summary order. The United States Supreme Court vacated the denial of the petition for writ of habeas corpus and remanded for reconsideration in light of its decision in Francis v. Franklin, 471 U.S. 307, 105 S.Ct. 1965, 85 L.Ed.2d 344 (1985). Yates v. Aiken, --- U.S. ----, 106 S.Ct. 218, 88 L.Ed.2d 218 (1985).

At Yates' trial the jury was instructed that malice is [290 S.C. 233] presumed from the use of a deadly weapon. No objection to the charge was made, and the issue was not raised on direct appeal. Approximately one year after Yates' conviction was affirmed, this Court found error in a similar malice charge. State v. Elmore, 279 S.C. 417, 308 S.E.2d 781 (1983). The jury instruction at Yates' trial suffered from the same infirmities present in Elmore and addressed in Francis v. Franklin, supra.

The question we must resolve is whether Elmore may be applied retroactively to invalidate a conviction which was final at the time Elmore was decided. We have expressly stated that Elmore's retroactive effect is limited to cases pending on direct appeal at the time that case was decided and will not apply to collateral attacks on criminal convictions. McClary v. State, 287 S.C. 160, 337 S.E.2d 218 (1985). In light of the remand of this case, however, we take this opportunity to re-evaluate and expand on our holding in McClary.

Decisions from the United States Supreme Court regarding retroactive application of new rules of criminal law are a mass of confusion. Indeed, that Court has noted that the development of the law of retroactivity is "almost as difficult to follow as the tracks made by a beast of prey in search of its intended victim." United States v. Johnson, 457 U.S. 537, 102 S.Ct. 2579, 2584, 73 L.Ed.2d 202 (1982), citing Mackey v. United States, 401 U.S. 667, 91 S.Ct. 1160, 1172, 28 L.Ed.2d 404 (1971) (Harlan, J., concurring). In applying those precedents at the state level to determine the retroactive effect of a prior state decision, one factor is controlling. "Retroactive application is not compelled, constitutionally or otherwise." Solem v. Stumes, 465 U.S. 638, 104 S.Ct. 1338, 1341, 79 L.Ed.2d 579 (1984). See also, United States v. Johnson, 102 S.Ct. at 2583, citing Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 85 S.Ct. 1731, 1737, 14 L.Ed.2d 601 (1965); [" 'The Constitution neither prohibits nor requires ... retrospective effect' be given to any 'new' constitutional rule."]; and citing Great Northern R. Company v. Sunburst Oil & Refining Company, 287 U.S. 358, 53 S.Ct. 145, 148, 77 L.Ed. 360 (1932) [" 'the federal constitution has no voice upon the subject' of retrospectivity."] In the absence of constitutional mandate, this Court is free to determine our own standards regarding retroactivity of state decisions.

[290 S.C. 234] While not binding on us, several of these decisions are instructive on the issue of retroactivity.

Prospective application should be afforded a new rule of criminal procedure which is a "clear break" from earlier precedent. United States v. Johnson, 102 S.Ct. at 2587, citing Desist v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 89 S.Ct. 1030, 1033, 22 L.Ed.2d 248 (1969). See, e.g., Batson v. Kentucky, --- U.S. ----, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986) (White, J., and O'Connor, J., concurring in separate opinions; Burger, C.J., and Rehnquist, J., dissenting). See also, State v. Hawkins, South Carolina Supreme Court Order dated June 6, 1986 [applying Batson

Page 86

v. Kentucky prospectively from the date of the decision.] Full retroactivity, even by collateral attack, should be permitted when a ruling establishes that the trial court's action is void ab initio or that defendant's conduct was not subject to criminal punishment. United States v. Johnson, 102 S.Ct. at 2587, and cases cited therein. The gray area between these two bright line rules has resulted in the majority of litigation on this issue.

We are persuaded by Justice Harlan's view that a new rule of criminal law which does not fall into one of the categories discussed above should be applied retroactively to all cases pending on direct review at the time the new decision is issued. See, Desist v. United States, supra (Harlan, J., dissenting); Mackey v. United States, supra, (Harlan, J., concurring) [adopted in United States v. Johnson, supra, as to new decisions arising under the Fourth Amendment.] See also, Shea v. Louisiana, 470 U.S. 51, 105 S.Ct. 1065, 1069, 84 L.Ed.2d 38, citing United States v. Johnson, 102 S.Ct. at 2594. This rule is, of course, subject to traditional standards of waiver and harmless error. 1 Shea v. Louisiana, 470 U.S. 51, 105 S.Ct. 1065, 1070, 84 L.Ed.2d 38 (1985) at footnote 4; Reed v. Ross, 468 U.S. 1, 104 S.Ct. 2901, 82 L.Ed.2d 1 (1984).

Justice Harlan's view has several advantages. Retroactive effect of a new rule is appropriate when the purpose of the new rule is to "enhance the accuracy of criminal trials." [290 S.C. 235] Solem v. Stumes, 104 S.Ct. at 1342. On one hand, the Harlan approach avoids the problem of the Court becoming a "super-legislature," picking one case at random in which to announce a new rule, "then letting all other similarly situated persons be passed by unaffected and unprotected by the new rule." Shea v. Louisiana, 105 S.Ct. at 1069. On the other hand, it prevents the illogical result of reversing, on collateral review, a decision on the basis of a rule of law which did not exist at the time the case was finally decided. Hankerson v. North Carolina, 432 U.S. 233, 97 S.Ct. 2339, 53 L.Ed.2d 306 (1977) (Powell, J., concurring).

Accordingly, we adhere to our decision in McClary that the retroactive application of Elmore is limited to cases pending on direct appeal at the time Elmore was decided. Collateral attack of a criminal conviction on the basis of legal precedent that developed after the conviction became final must be reserved for those cases in which the trial court's action was without jurisdiction or is void because the defendant's conduct is not subject to criminal sanction.

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9 practice notes
  • Gilbert v. Moore, Nos. 96-12
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 22 Enero 1998
    ...act of one is the act of both or all.... [A]s it is sometimes said, the hand of one is the hand of all." J.A. 2283; see Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84, 87 (1986), rev'd on other grounds, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988); State v. Hicks, 257 S.C. 279, 185 S.E.2......
  • Sanchez v. State, No. 87-138
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 7 Junio 1988
    ...105 S.Ct. 1965, 85 L.Ed.2d 344 (1985); Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 99 S.Ct. 2450, 61 L.Ed.2d 39 (1979); Page 252 Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84 (1986), cert. granted 480 U.S. 945, 107 S.Ct. 1601, 94 L.Ed.2d 788 (1987); and State v. Elmore, 279 S.C. 417, 308 S.E.2d 781 (......
  • Drayton v. Evatt, No. 23852
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 9 Junio 1993
    ...vitae review to collateral proceedings brought prior to our decision abolishing in favorem vitae review. 1 Drayton cites 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),......
  • Johnson v. Collins Entertainment Co., Inc., No. 25474.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 28 Mayo 2002
    ...aid, abet and encourage each other in the commission of a crime, all being present, each is guilty as a principal." Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 236, 349 S.E.2d 84, 87 (1986), rev'd on other grounds, Yates v. Aiken, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988) (citing State v. Hicks,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Gilbert v. Moore, Nos. 96-12
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 22 Enero 1998
    ...act of one is the act of both or all.... [A]s it is sometimes said, the hand of one is the hand of all." J.A. 2283; see Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84, 87 (1986), rev'd on other grounds, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988); State v. Hicks, 257 S.C. 279, 185 S.E.2......
  • Sanchez v. State, No. 87-138
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 7 Junio 1988
    ...105 S.Ct. 1965, 85 L.Ed.2d 344 (1985); Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 99 S.Ct. 2450, 61 L.Ed.2d 39 (1979); Page 252 Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 349 S.E.2d 84 (1986), cert. granted 480 U.S. 945, 107 S.Ct. 1601, 94 L.Ed.2d 788 (1987); and State v. Elmore, 279 S.C. 417, 308 S.E.2d 781 (......
  • Drayton v. Evatt, No. 23852
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 9 Junio 1993
    ...vitae review to collateral proceedings brought prior to our decision abolishing in favorem vitae review. 1 Drayton cites 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),......
  • Johnson v. Collins Entertainment Co., Inc., No. 25474.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 28 Mayo 2002
    ...aid, abet and encourage each other in the commission of a crime, all being present, each is guilty as a principal." Yates v. Aiken, 290 S.C. 231, 236, 349 S.E.2d 84, 87 (1986), rev'd on other grounds, Yates v. Aiken, 484 U.S. 211, 108 S.Ct. 534, 98 L.Ed.2d 546 (1988) (citing State v. Hicks,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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