Archive for March, 2010

Supreme Court rejects claim that indigent is entitled to court appointed attorney to defend civil contempt

I would love to see our South Carolina Supreme Court explain how an indigent holds the key to his cell door by paying $6,000.00 he doesn’t have.  Today’s Supreme Court opinion in Price v. Turner, 387 S.C. 142, 691 S.E.2d 470 (2010), makes that claim but does nothing to substantiate it. I have previously noted two potential challenges to […]

Updated abuse and neglect materials

Less than a year after undertaking extensive research in 2007 to draft materials for lectures on representing parents in abuse and neglect cases, South Carolina’s legislature recodified the abuse an neglect code.  Unlike the recent recodification of the children’s code, this was not mostly labeling old statutes with new statute numbers in a one-to-one mapping. […]

What we got here is a failure to communicate

A few months ago I tried an initial custody case involving an eight-year old child on behalf of the father against a pro se mother.  Patel v. Patel, 359 S.C. 515, 533, 599 S.E.2d 114 (2004), stands for the proposition that “there is an assumption that custody will be awarded to the primary caretaker.” Aware […]

How else should we select judges?

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried. – Winston Churchill It’s clear that the Supreme Court’s Per Curiam opinion (an opinion in which the author remains anonymous) in Segars-Andrews v. Judicial Merit Selection Commission, 387 S.C. 109, 691 S.E.2d 453 (2010), was painful for the Justices to […]

Judge Segars-Andrews’s appeal

Judge Segars-Andrews’ complaint was dismissed by the Supreme Court today: Segars-Andrews v. Judicial Merit Selection Commission, 387 S.C. 109, 691 S.E.2d 453 (2010). I assume this means she will not be a family court judge after her term expires on June 30th.  While the Supreme Court’s decision wasn’t surprising–appellate courts try hard to not find the actions of […]

New Frequently Asked Question on Family Court Temporary Hearings

Realizing I have never adequately explained in writing what happens at a family court temporary hearing, and realizing that I shouldn’t expect my clients to understand without a thorough explanation either, I drafted the following frequently asked question for use of my clients and my colleagues’ clients:  What Happens at Family Court Temporary Hearings?

Why shouldn’t lawyers have sunny dispositions?

Last week I hosted an extern from Bryn Mawr College who was interested in a career in family law.  Facebook messaging her mother [a physician at Harvard married to a lawyer who also works for Harvard] this evening to thank her for a lovely gift sent in appreciation, she [the mother] mentioned: “She [the daughter] […]

From mediator to advocate

I’ve been a certified mediator for less than a year but continually encounter unrepresented parties who want me to mediate their separation, custody or support issues and then assist them in getting court approval of their agreement.  Given the huge ethical concerns I have over switching from the third-party neutral role to an advocate role, […]


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