THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Jeremiah S. Craddock, Petitioner,
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
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
At the PCR hearing, petitioner admitted his guilt, but testified that
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.