Joy v. Sheppard

Joy v. Sheppard is an unpublished February 2001 opinion from the South Carolina Court of Appeals.  This case stemmed from a determination of paternity action brought by Ms. Joy.  After the initial DNA testing indicated that Mr. Sheppard was not the father of the child at issue, the parties entered a consent order finding that he was not the father.  A few days before the one-year deadline to reopen a case based on fraud, Ms. Joy filed a motion asking the court to reopen the case, claiming that Mr. Sheppard had someone else provide a DNA sample in his place, and asking for new DNA testing.

At the motion hearing the family court refused to find that Mr. Sheppard committed fraud. However, concerned about irregularities in the test, the court ordered new DNA testing.  Mr. Sheppard appealed and his trial counsel retained me to handle the appeal.

Typically orders awarding a new trial are immediately appealable and on appeal neither party challenged Mr. Sheppard’s right to appeal the lower court’s order.  However, after briefing and oral argument, the Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal.  It held that the lower court’s order did not actually reopen the case but merely required Mr. Sheppard to engage in discovery.  Because discovery orders are not immediately appealable, the Court of Appeals dismissed Mr. Sheppard’s appeal.