When Do Binding Cases Begin to Bind?

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently clarified when its decisions apply to all similar circumstances or only those that arise after the decision is rendered. In civil cases, decisions are presumptively retroactive. For the decision to apply prospectively only, it must create new substantive rights or impose new liabilities. Lord v. D & J Enterprises, Inc., Op. No. 27376 (S.C. Sup.Ct. filed April 9, 2014).  Continue reading

5 Quirks in Deadlines for SC Appeals

Twenty-three years ago this month, I started work on my first cert petition to the US Supreme Court. I worked hard at it, was proud of it, and got it out a day late. I had looked at the blocks of days on the calendar wrong and miscounted by one day. A docket clerk at the US Supreme Court called to explain that the Court does not accept untimely cert petitions.

From then on, I always triple check deadlines and the rules governing how to compute them. This review uncovered five quirks in the rule for South Carolina appeals.

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Sua Sponte Orders Are a Trap for Appeals

South Carolina appellate courts lack plain error review. To appeal an issue, the issue must generally first be raised and ruled on in the trial court. If an issue was raised but not ruled on, a party who wants to appeal must timely make a Rule 59(e) motion and ask for a ruling.

So what happens if the converse is true? Say a trial judge rules on an issue that was never raised. Must you make a Rule 59(e) motion when the trial court rules sua sponte?  Continue reading