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24690 - Craddock v. State

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

Jeremiah S. Craddock, Petitioner,

V.

State of South Carolina, Respondent.

Appeal From Pickens County

Gerald C. Smoak, Judge

Opinion No. 24690

Submitted September 9, 1997 - Filed SeiDtember 22, 1997

VACATED AND REMANDED

Assistant Appellate Defender Lisa G. Echols, of S.C.

Office of Appellate Defense, of Columbia, for petitioner.

Attorney General Charles Molony Condon, Deputy

Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy

Attorney General Teresa A. Knox, and Assistant

Attorney General Barbara M. Tiffin, of Columbia, for

respondent.

PER CURIAM: Petitioner pled guilty to armed robbery, assault and

battery with intent to kill, and grand larceny. Following petitioner's testimony

at the hearing on his application for post-conviction relief (PCR), the PCR judge

granted the State's motion for a directed verdict. Petitioner now seeks a writ of

certiorari. We grant the petition, dispense with further briefing, vacate the

order of the PCR judge, and remand the matter for a full hearing on petitioner's

PCR application.

At the PCR hearing, petitioner admitted his guilt, but testified that

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CRADDOCK v. STATE

he would not have pled guilty but for the fact that counsel promised him a

twenty-five year sentence in exchange for his guilty plea. The State then moved

for a directed verdict on the ground that petitioner had admitted his guilt and,

accordingly, had not met his burden of proof. The PCR judge, citing Whetsell v.

State, 276 S.C. 295) 277 S.E.2d 891 (1981), found that because petitioner

admitted his guilt, his application should be denied.

In Whetsell, the petitioner pled guilty to the crimes. On PCR, he

alleged ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to make a motion to suppress

evidence. The Court found that the petitioner's admission of his guilt, as well

as his testimony that he would plead guilty again if granted a new trial,

rendered a review of trial error unnecessary. The rule set forth in Whetsell

applies only where the applicant is not prejudiced by any allegations of the PCR

application because of the admission of guilt.

In this case, petitioner alleged that counsel was ineffective,

rendering his guilty plea invalid, in promising him a twenty-five year sentence.

Petitioner testified that, although he was guilty of the crimes charged, he would

not have pled guilty if not for counsel's promise. His admission of guilt did not

render counsel's allegedly deficient performance non-prejudicial. Accordingly,

Whetsell is inapplicable and the PCR judge improperly directed a verdict against

petitioner on the ground that he admitted his guilt. We, therefore, vacate the

order of the PCR judge and remand this matter for a full hearing on petitioner's

application for PCR.

VACATED AND REMANDED.

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