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25006 - State v. Keesee

Shearouse Adv. Sh. No.
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

The State, Respondent,

v.

Robert Keesee, Petitioner.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF

APPEALS

Appeal From Fairfield County

Paul E. Short, Jr., Circuit Court Judge

Opinion No. 25006

Heard February 4, 1999 - Filed October 11, 1999

REVERSED

Robert Marshall Jones, of Rock Hill; and Jay Bender,

of Baker, Barwick, Ravenel & Bender, L.L.P. of

Columbia, for petitioner.

Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Chief Deputy

Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant

Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant

Attorney General Caroline Tiffin, all of Columbia;

and Solicitor John R. Justice, of Chester, for

respondent.

p. 7


STATE v. KEESEE

PER CURIAM: We granted certiorari to consider the decision of

the Court of Appeals reported at 327 S.C. 627, 490 S.E.2d 626 (Ct. App.

1997). We now reverse.

The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the Catawba

combination license issued to Catawba Indians pursuant to the terms of the

Catawba Indian Claims Settlement Act 1 (Claims Act) is the functional

equivalent of a "combination hunting and fishing license" or of a "sportsman

license."3 If the Catawba combination license is the equivalent of a

sportsman license, then petitioner's magistrate's court conviction for hunting

on a wildlife management area (WMA) without a WMA permit must be

overturned because a sportsman license includes the privilege of hunting on

a WMA. The magistrate held, however, that the Catawba license was

limited to the privileges associated with the regular combination license,

which requires one to purchase a separate WMA permit in order to hunt on

those lands, and convicted petitioner. The magistrate's ruling was upheld on

appeal to the circuit court and to the Court of Appeals. We, however,

disagree with this construction of the scope of the Catawba combination

license.

There is no statute authorizing the Catawba combination license,

or defining its limits. It is the creation of the Department of Natural

Resources in response to the Claims Act's mandate that:

Hunting and fishing, on or off the Reservation,

must be conducted in compliance with the laws

and regulations of South Carolina. Members of

the Tribe are subject to all state and local regula-

tions governing hunting and fishing on and off the

Reservation. However, for ninety-nine years


1 S.C. Code Ann. §§27-16-10 et seq. (Supp. 1998).

3 At the time this case arose, the combination hunting and fishing

license was codified at S.C. Code Ann. § 50-9-10 and the sportsman license

was found at S.C. Code Ann. § 50-9-15. In 1996, the licensing statutes were

substantially revised and the relevant language is now found at S.C. Code

Ann. § 50-9-510 (Supp. 1998).

p.8


STATE v. KEESEE

following the effective date of this Chapter,

members of the Tribe are entitled to personal

hunting and fishing licenses without payment

of fees.

S.C. Code Ann. § 27-16-120 (E)(emphasis added).

We hold that the clear intent of the Claims Act was to extend full hunting

and fishing rights to members of the Catawba Tribe without charge.

Accordingly, we find that the Catawba combination license confers the same

benefits on its holders as those conferred by the sportsman license. It

follows, therefore, that petitioner is not guilty of hunting without the

requisite permits. His conviction and sentence are

REVERSED.

C. J.

----------

A.J.

A.J.

-A.J.

A.J.

p.9