Friday, February 18, 2011

Fourth Circuit upholds habeas grant because S.C. Supreme Court misapplies law

Brandt v. Gooding, No. 09-7907 (4th Cir. Feb. 18, 2011):

Supreme Court of South Carolina incorrectly employed a summary contempt proceeding, denying petitioner of his due process rights.

Although courts have the power to summarily find an individual guilty of criminal contempt, this procedure only complies with due process if the misconduct at issue occurs "directly under the eye or within the view of the court."  If the misconduct does not so occur, the individual must be afforded reasonable notice of the charge against him and an opportunity to be heard in his defense, including a right to examine the witnesses against him, to offer testimony, and to be represented by counsel.

Petitioner, denied his due process rights, was entitled to a grant of his habeas petition.

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