THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
The State, Respondent,
Robert Keesee, Petitioner.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
Appeal From Fairfield County
Paul E. Short, Jr., Circuit Court Judge
Opinion No. 25006
Heard February 4, 1999 - Filed October 11, 1999
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
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
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
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).
following the effective date of this Chapter,
members of the Tribe are entitled to personal
hunting and fishing licenses without payment
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