One of the founders of the firm, Jim Morton has practiced criminal law in South Carolina for three decades. He has served at various times as a public defender, prosecutor and defense attorney, work that has given him a broad legal perspective and a wide range of experience.

Jim has defended clients in cases that have drawn national attention, and he has handled death penalty cases. He has handled complex and unusual trials, including cold cases, DNA evidence, false confessions and hypnosis. While practicing as a defense attorney, Jim has been selected to be a special prosecutor to prosecute homicide cases in York, Chesterfield and Sumter counties.

His practice also includes misdemeanor and felony drunk driving charges and other crimes. Jim has an extensive personal injury practice as well, including wrongful death suits and workers’ compensation cases.

Jim has served on the South Carolina Supreme Court Commission on Lawyer Conduct since 2007. That agency investigates allegations of attorney misconduct. Before attending the University of South Carolina School of Law, Jim was assistant to the sergeant at arms for the U.S. Senate.

He has served the community as well through positions on statewide boards of directors and advisory councils.

Jim and his wife, Mary Frances, live in Rock Hill with their children, Frances and James.

Admissions
  • State of South Carolina
  • US District Court, District of South Carolina
Education
  • University of South Carolina, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1976
  • University of South Carolina School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1985
Associations
  • South Carolina Supreme Court Commission on Lawyer Conduct, 2007 – present
  • American Civil Liberties Union of SC Board Member, 2013 – present
  • USC School of Law Mentor
  • York County Free Medical Clinic Advisory Board
  • York County Public Defenders Board Member (past)
  • Rock Hill Area Council of the Chamber of Commerce (past)
  • Palmetto YMCA Board Member (past)
  • Hollings Cancer Center Citizens Advisory Council (past)
  • MUSC Board of Visitors 2014-15
  • Rock Hill Property Maintenance Code Board of Appeals, 2015
  • York County Democratic Party Chairman, 2001 – 2006
  • Prosecutor, Richland County Solicitor’s Office, 1987 – 1991
  • Richland County Assistant Public Defender, 1985 – 1987
  • Assistant to the Sergeant at Arms, United States Senate, 1977 – 1982
Representative Engagements

Disclaimer: The following examples are intended only to be representative of Mr. Morton’s practice. These examples are not intended to, and cannot be relied upon to predict the results in any other case.

Criminal Defense

  • Defended Bobby Lee Holmes, whose case was reversed by U.S. Supreme Court with a 9-0 vote (State v. Bobby Lee Holmes). The ruling established guidelines for trial judges when a defendant seeks to present third party guilt evidence.
  • Defended client who was convicted of murdering and raping his 12 year old daughter (State v. Billy Wayne Cope) based primarily on a false confession. The case was portrayed on Dateline NBC in 2010.
  • Represented a client in a capital murder trial, who was alleged to have shot and killed his ex-wife and her grandmother at point blank range outside York County Courthouse (State v. Michael Godfrey).
  • As a special prosecutor, won conviction and life sentence of a defendant for breaking into the home of a teacher, then raping and killing her. (State v. Edward Cronell)
  • Represented defendant who was charged with the hit-and-run deaths of two young children in Richland County (State v. Jerry Evans). Argued appeal to S.C. Supreme Court on issue of hypnotically enhanced testimony. The trial was first case in South Carolina in which cameras were allowed in courtroom.
  • Handled post-conviction relief trial in a death penalty case (State v. Richard Moore).
  • Represented a client in a post conviction relief trial in a death penalty case based on proving that defendant was mentally retarded (State v. Kenneth Simmons).
  • Acted as trial counsel for a defendant convicted for the execution-style slaying of a witness to another murder (State v. Murray Adkins).
  • Prosecuted a defendant convicted of execution slaying of his partner with whom he had committed several armed robberies, to keep him from talking (State v. Ronald Tillman). Defendant serving life in prison.
  • Co-counsel in defense of man charged with an 11-year-old murder in York County (State v. Jackie Hartley).
  • Prosecuted and convicted defendant, a prison escapee, for the vehicular homicide of a 17 yr. old girl on way to her prom (State v. Joseph Benson).
  • Prosecuted the second and third DNA cases in S.C. against defendant for rape of a Bible school teacher (State v. Duane Mitchell).
  • Prosecuted defendant for stabbing death of a Bible school student.
  • Prosecuted Ryan Bethea, star U.S.C. football player, for cocaine possession until discovering that a police sergeant had planted the drugs. Later testified against the police sergeant who was tried and convicted for obstruction of justice (State v. Ryan Bethea).
  • Prosecuted defendant originally charged with the slayings of three prostitutes (State v. Douglas O’Neal). Won conviction and life sentence.
  • Represented 90-yr old veteran with no prior record who used a hatchet to beat his wife of 65 years to death while she slept.

Personal Injury

  • Represented client in Workers’ Compensation settlement and in subsequent out-of-state lawsuit against the large national employer and third-party equipment manufacturer
  • Negotiated a settlement arising from motor vehicle accident and established life-care plan for client
  • Sued nursing home for negligent administration of medication to patient.
  • Negotiated a large settlement against a logging company for dropping a log onto a public highway and crushing the roof of a passing automobile.
  • Filed and settled a bad faith case against well-known insurance company resulting from motorcycle accident.
  • Represented victims of dog bites.
  • Represented surviving spouses, children, heirs, and estates in numerous wrongful death actions.
  • Successfully represented clients in numerous personal injury settlements/suits.

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