What ever happened to comity?

Posted Thursday, April 16th, 2015 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Audience:, Jurisprudence, Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, South Carolina Specific

I am beginning to pity the South Carolina Court of Appeals. For the third time in less than two months the South Carolina Supreme Court has directed the Court of Appeals to depublish one of its opinions–this time on April 9, 2015 in the case of State v. Starks, 410 S.C. 580, 765 S.E.2d 148 (Ct. App. 2014).

As I noted recently, I’ve never heard of a superior court ordering an inferior appellate court to depublish one of its opinions. In all three cases the Supreme Court did not reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision. The only rationale I can determine for ordering an inferior appellate court to depublish an opinion without reversing the decision is that the Supreme Court agrees with the result but disagrees with the reasoning and does not want the Court of Appeals’ reasoning to be cited as precedent. However, if that’s the case, it behooves the Supreme Court to issue its own opinion and explain its own reasoning–basically to affirm the Court of Appeals as modified.

There are so many areas of South Carolina law that could use precedential analysis by our appellate courts that the act of depublishing opinions is almost perverse. It also demonstrates a lack of respect of the Supreme Court for the Court of Appeals. Ironically, our appellate courts are renowned for their general courtesy–the Court of Appeals has a tradition of the appellate judges stepping down from the bench to shake appellate counsels’ hands at the conclusion of every oral argument. The Supreme Court’s recent lack of comity towards the Court of Appeals is a bit shocking and frankly inexplicable.

2 thoughts on What ever happened to comity?

  1. Ann says:

    I don’t blame SCOTUS given State v. Mimms was based on Black Codes, but more likely, it was the decision was the Court felt the legislature intended that persons in “legal custody” are owed duty of care and those who fail to take steps to protect them are criminally negligent, which would be highly problematic in such cases as dead children and inmates in the state’s legal custody if allowed to stand. However, the reasoning was completely illogical given Mimms was charged with DUI and does not have legal custody of the entire population. It should have been overturned.

  2. Ann says:

    Edit: I meant SC Supreme Court. My apologies.

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