SC Supreme Court Reverses Granted PCR, No Relief in Meth Trafficking Case

Marshall Collins v. State (No. 2014-002397)

A jury convicted Marshall Collins of trafficking methamphetamine (third offense), and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Collins’ conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. Collins later filed an application for PCR. The PCR judge issued an order granting Collins a new trial. The State petitioned for a writ of certiorari to review whether the PCR judge erred in finding trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a continuance and failing to properly handle an expired plea offer. The Supreme Court now reverses the PCR court, denying relief to Collins.

Collins’ PCR application argued two grounds (1) that trial counsel failed to request a continuance when Collins was served with an additional indictment (for the weapon charge) on the morning of trial, and (2) that counsel failed to properly handle a plea offer that was made (and expired) prior to counsel’s appointment.

Though the PCR was granted below, the Supreme Court now rejects these arguments, reversing the PCR court. Regarding the continuance, the court reasons that counsel did ask for a continuance, without actually formally requesting one (on the morning of trial, counsel argued that the court should not allow the solicitor to proceed on the newly-indicted charge). Regarding the plea offer, the court notes that Collins failed to demonstrate that he would have accepted the expired plea offer if his new attorney had managed to revive it:

Consequently, the record is void of any testimony that Collins expressed a desire to accept the expired offer. More importantly, even if Collins wanted to plead guilty, there is no evidence or testimony from the solicitor that the expired offer was still available before trial, nor is there any evidence or testimony that a new offer existed for Collins to accept. Thus, Collins failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability that he would have accepted any offer, new or expired.

 

 

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