A Helping Hand: Jim Bannister Takes on a Pro-Bono Case

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A Helping Hand: Jim Bannister Takes on a Pro-Bono Case

Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, Managing Partner, James (Jim) Bannister is continuing his work on a pro bono case, representing Kenny Butler. Kenny Butler was originally sentenced to life for murder. However, Kenny is believed to be innocent as he passed a SLED polygraph exam during the States investigation wherein he stated that he did not kill the victim. He also failed a polygraph wherein he was required to say that he had killed the victim.

Ultimately, Butler confessed to the murder during a dozen different interviews without counsel and was convicted based on his false confession.

Butler was sentenced to life with a 20-year parole eligibility for murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the use of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He is currently serving out his sentence at the McCormick Correctional Institution of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and is up for parole this year.

“Kenny Butler’s case contains false confessions from not only Kenny Butler, but also two other individuals who were initially believed to be involved in the murder,” Jim said. “The saddest part of this case is that the person who committed this murder left cigarettes. DNA was extracted from these cigarettes and it did not match Kenny Butler or any other alleged suspects in the investigation. For some reason, the DNA has never been processed through the national database to determine who it belongs to.”

Jim previously submitted a Habeas Petition asking for the conviction to be overturned on the grounds that the DNA potentially contained new evidence and numerous other defects in the case. The Habeas Petition was summarily dismissed as untimely. He is currently in the process of putting together a package for the Parole Board to ask that Mr. Butler be paroled based on the high likelihood that he is serving a sentence on a wrongful conviction.

James (Jim) Bannister is a managing partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC. Mr. Bannister is committed to providing his clients with experienced, insightful and well-prepared criminal defense representation in a broad range of cases, including drugs and narcotics, RICO charges, Internet crime, white collar crime, securities fraud, tax evasion, murder, sex charges, domestic violence and DUI. While he primarily takes on cases in the upstate of South Carolina, he represents individuals statewide in federal cases.

Mr. Bannister is a member of the South Carolina Bar, Federal Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and National Board of Trial Advocacy. Mr. Bannister has been honored among Greenville’s Legal Elite for criminal defense each year the award has been offered. In 2007, Mr. Bannister earned his Criminal Trial Advocacy Certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

On a national level, Mr. Bannister has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2008 for Criminal Defense and DUI Defense. He has also been included in South Carolina’s Super Lawyers for criminal defense since 2011. In 2016, Mr. Bannister became one of only three members of the South Carolina Bar to be named as a fellow to the American Board of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

In addition to his private practice, Mr. Bannister serves on the Board of Governors for the South Carolina Bar and was recently elected as Commissioner for Greenville Water. Mr. Bannister formerly served on two criminal law task forces, as appointed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and as a Commissioner on the Commission on Indigent Defense, a commission appointed by Governor Haley.

Jim Bannister graduated from the University of South Carolina honors program in 1992 as a Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1995, after which he served for two years as clerk to US Federal Judge Henry M. Herlong.


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