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2012-UP-028 - State v. McFadden

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Darnell D. McFadden, Appellant.


Appeal From Florence County
Thomas A. Russo, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2012-UP-028
Heard November 16, 2011 – Filed January 25, 2012   


AFFIRMED


Tricia A. Blanchette, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Harold Coombs, all of Columbia; Solicitor E.L. Clements, III, of Florence, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: In this criminal case, Darnell D. McFadden argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to relieve counsel and not granting him a continuance in order to obtain a private attorney.  He further contends the trial court erred in admitting drug evidence because the chain of custody was insufficient.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1. As to whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to relieve counsel and not granting him a continuance in order to obtain a private attorney: State v. Gregory, 364 S.C. 150, 152, 612 S.E.2d 449, 450 (2005) (holding a motion to relieve counsel is addressed to the discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion); State v. Graddick, 345 S.C. 383, 386, 548 S.E.2d 210, 211 (2001) (noting the defendant bears the burden of showing satisfactory cause for removal); id. (finding the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's motion to relieve counsel when defendant alleged counsel was not representing his interests, counsel was not fully prepared for the case, and defendant did not feel comfortable going to court with counsel as his lawyer); State v. Hyman, 276 S.C. 559, 562, 281 S.E.2d 209, 211 (1981), overruled on other grounds by State v. Torrence, 305 S.C. 45, 406 S.E.2d 315 (1991) (finding the trial court did not abuse his discretion in denying the defendant's motion to relieve counsel based on the defendant's allegation that counsel was "not up to date on the law"); State v. Yarborough, 363 S.C. 260, 266, 609 S.E.2d 592, 595 (Ct. App. 2005) ("The granting of a motion for a continuance is within the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed absent a clear showing of an abuse of discretion."); State v. McMillian, 349 S.C. 17, 21, 561 S.E.2d 602, 604 (2002) (providing a trial court's denial of a motion for continuance will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of discretion); id. ("Reversals of refusal of a continuance are about as rare as the proverbial hens' teeth."). 

2. As to whether the trial court erred in admitting drug evidence because the chain of custody was allegedly insufficient: State v. Dunbar, 356 S.C. 138, 142, 587 S.E.2d 691, 694 (2003) ("A party may not argue one ground at trial and an alternate ground on appeal."); State v. Haselden, 353 S.C. 190, 196, 577 S.E.2d 445, 448 (2003) (finding unpreserved appellant's argument testimony was improper character evidence when appellant objected to the testimony only on basis of relevancy); State v. Benton, 338 S.C. 151, 157, 526 S.E.2d 228, 231 (2000) (finding an argument in support of a jury charge on one ground was not preserved because appellant had argued for the charge based on a different ground at trial); State v. Pagan, 369 S.C. 201, 208, 631 S.E.2d 262, 265 (2006) ("The admission of evidence is within the discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion."); id. ("An abuse of discretion occurs when the conclusions of the trial court either lack evidentiary support or are controlled by an error of law."); State v. Hatcher, 392 S.C. 86, 91, 708 S.E.2d 750, 753 (2011) ("'[A] party offering into evidence fungible items such as drugs . . . must establish a complete chain of custody as far as practicable.'" (quoting State v. Sweet, 374 S.C. 1, 6, 647 S.E.2d 202, 205 (2007))); id. (finding that when the substance analyzed has passed through several hands, the State must not leave it to conjecture as to who had it and what was done with it between the taking and the analysis); id. ("'Testimony from each custodian of fungible evidence, however, is not a prerequisite to establishing a chain of custody sufficient for admissibility.'" (quoting Sweet, 374 S.C. at 7, 647 S.E.2d at 206)); id. (holding that when other evidence establishes the identity of those who have handled the evidence and reasonably demonstrates the manner of handling of the evidence, courts will fill gaps in the chain of custody due to an absent witness.); id. at 92, 708 S.E.2d at 753 ("'Proof of chain of custody need not negate all possibility of tampering so long as the chain of possession is complete.'" (quoting State v. Carter, 344 S.C. 419, 424, 544 S.E.2d 835, 837 (2001))); Carter, 344 S.C. at 424, 544 S.E.2d at 837 (stating evidence is inadmissible only when the chain of possession is missing a link because the identity of those who handled the evidence was not established at least as far as practicable); id. (finding that when the identity of persons handling the specimen is established, evidence regarding its care goes only to the weight of the specimen as credible evidence); id. (providing that when the chain of custody has a weak link, as opposed to a missing link, the question is only one of credibility and not admissibility).

AFFIRMED.

FEW, C.J., and THOMAS and KONDUROS, JJ., concur.