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E-Blast Archive Issue

Welcome to the South Carolina Bar's E-Blast!

E-Blast highlights upcoming activities, legal information and links to the Bar's website at www.scbar.org.

The South Carolina Bar is dedicated to advancing justice, professionalism and understanding of the law.


S.C. Bar annual report available online
The Perspectives annual report, which outlines accomplishments from the 2009-10 Bar year and goals for the year ahead, is available online. The report features video remarks from Bar President Carl L. Solomon and Immediate Past President Fred W. Suggs Jr. Click here to access the report and learn about the Bar's efforts in the areas of membership services, continuing legal education, public services and law related education, as well as the work of the Young Lawyers Division and various committees, sections and task forces. The video remarks are also available on the Bar's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/SouthCarolinaBar.

Specialization certification amendments approved
By order of July 22 the Supreme Court approved amendments to Appendix E of Part IV, SCACR, concerning the standards and procedures for certification, recertification and decertification of specialists in bankruptcy, debtor-creditor and taxation law. These amendments were proposed by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization and were published in the February 2010 edition of the S.C. Bar News in accordance with Rule 408, SCACR. The amendments are effective immediately. To view the full text of the order, click here.

Settlement agreement approved
By order of July 22 the Supreme Court approved the settlement agreement which included a request to vacate the Court of Appeals opinion in Mead v. Jessex, Inc. To view the full text of the order, click here.

Items needed for backpack drive
YLD's Done in a Day Committee is coordinating efforts with The Cooperative Ministry to donate backpacks and school supplies to children's homes and youth advocacy programs throughout the Midlands. Take advantage of the tax-free weekend (August 6-8) to purchase items for this worthy cause. To view drop-off locations and a list of items needed, click here.  Donations must be received at collection sites by August 12. Please contact Paul Hoefer at (803) 779-8900 or phoefer@robinsonlaw.com for more information.


Standards of Professionalism reminder
As a gentle reminder, the Bar is publishing excerpts from the Standards of Professionalism. The Standards are aspirational and are published on the Bar's website.
Devotion to Public Service and the Public Good
2. Principle: A lawyer should further the legal profession's devotion to public service and to the public good.
Standards:
2.1 A lawyer should contribute the skill, knowledge and influence gained as a lawyer to the furtherance of civic responsibility and the public good.
2.2 A lawyer should provide or assist and defend efforts to provide all persons with just causes, regardless of their means or the popularity of their cause, to full and fair access to the law and to the judicial system.
2.3 A lawyer should defend the importance to society of serving the fundamental rights of individuals notwithstanding any contrary popular opinion of the day.

Prime Partner Banks go "above and beyond"
The Bar Foundation commends our Prime Partner Banks -- Bank of Anderson, BNC Bank, Capital Bank, First National Bank of the South, Pickens Savings & Loan and Southcoast Community Bank -- for going "above and beyond" the minimum requirements set forth in Rule 412. You can help the Foundation and its grantees advance justice in South Carolina by banking at a Prime Partner financial institution or encouraging your bank to become one today. Your Bar Foundation is the only statewide entity that funds the advancement of justice by improving access, education and accountability. Please join us.

SCALA Vendor Fair coming next month!
The S.C. Association of Legal Administrators' (SCALA) annual Vendor Fair is Thursday, August 19, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with an educational presentation for both administrators and vendors entitled "Where is the Tipping Point When Cutting Expenses to Increase Profits?" presented by Richard J. Nigon, CLM, CFO of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP in Minneapolis and past president of ALA. Following the presentation, up to 50 vendors will offer information about products and services of benefit to those working in the legal and finance industry. The Vendor Hall will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. There is no fee to attend the educational session or the vendor fair; however, guests are encouraged to register in advance with this registration form or by e-mailing rsvp@rtt-law.com. Hors d'oervres and beverages will be served. Door prizes will be presented during the last hour of the event. Don't wait; register today!

Advance Sheet update
July 21, 2010
In this action for damages due to the destruction of a new home as the result of a fire, the Court of Appeals addressed 11 issues raised on appeal by the cross-claimants. The Wrights' appeal concerned various evidentiary and procedural issues during the trial. In its cross-appeal, Hiester Construction (Hiester) contended the trial court should have directed a verdict in its favor instead of submitting the matter to the jury. The court found no reversible error on the part of the trial judge warranting either a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial. Because Hiester prevailed at trial, the court declined to address its argument that it should have received a directed verdict.
Wright v. Hiester Constr. Co., Inc., No. 4712, is online.

In this divorce case, Husband appealed the family court's award of alimony to Wife, the allocation of marital debt and the denial of attorneys' fees to Husband. Husband contended the evidence established Wife's adultery, so the family court erred in awarding alimony. In the alternative, Husband argued the $300 alimony award was excessive in light of Husband's fixed income. The court found the family court did not abuse its discretion in denying Husband's request for a divorce on the grounds of adultery and that the $300 monthly alimony award was reasonable. Husband argued the family court erred in failing to divide the parties' credit card debt on a 50/50 basis because the debt at issue was accrued during the parties' marriage and thus subject to equitable division. The court affirmed the family court's division of the parties' debts. The court declined to rule on Husband's argument regarding attorneys' fees since the Husband's argument was based solely on the propriety of the family court's alimony and property awards. 
Kennedy v. Kennedy, No. 4713, is online.

Strickland appealed his convictions for voluntary manslaughter and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN), arguing the trial court erred in denying his directed verdict motion because he established self-defense as a matter of law. The court affirmed the trial court's decision, finding that contrary testimony created an issue of credibility and the trial court properly submitted the case to the jury. 
State v. Strickland, No. 4714, is online.

July 26, 2010
After visiting a number of bars one night in July 2003, Helton drove his vehicle across the center line and struck a car in which Hartfield and his father (Respondents) were passengers. Helton died at the scene, and Respondents filed suit against the three bars Helton visited that evening. At trial, a jury awarded a $10 million verdict against The Getaway Lounge & Grill. The trial court also granted Respondents' motion to pierce the corporate veil of The Getaway. The Getaway appealed, and the Supreme Court certified the case for review pursuant to Rule 204(b), SCACR. The Getaway argued that the trial court erred in admitting the testimony of an expert concerning Helton's blood alcohol level; in failing to direct a verdict in favor of The Getaway; in allowing a permissive inference from the criminal statute on driving under the influence; in failing to charge the jury that the plaintiff must prove Helton was visibly intoxicated at The Getaway; in instructing the jury that The Getaway is liable if employees should have known Helton was intoxicated; and the trial judge erred in piercing the corporate veil of The Getaway. The Court disagreed with all of the arguments and affirmed the trial court's decision. 
Hartfield v. The Getaway Lounge & Grill, Inc., No. 26836, is online.
Justice Pleicones dissented in a separate opinion.
 
Petitioner Wilder was convicted of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and received consecutive sentences of life and five years. Wilder had no direct appeal, and following an evidentiary hearing on his post-conviction relief (PCR) application, the PCR judge found Wilder was entitled to a belated direct appeal. PCR counsel neglected to timely appeal this PCR order, and the Court issued a writ of certiorari in its original jurisdiction to review the case. The Court found that although the trial court erred when it held that preparing false tax returns was not conduct probative of a witness's truthfulness, the error was not prejudicial because the testimony was merely cumulative to other overwhelming evidence of guilt. The Court found no merit to the direct appeal and dismissed the writ of certiorari. 
Wilder v. State, No. 26841, is online.

After considering the question of whether the Court of Appeals erred in reversing and remanding Respondent's sentence, the Court dismissed certiorari as improvidently granted.
State v. Bodenstedt, No. 26842, is online.

A jury convicted Finklea of murder with aggravating circumstances and recommended a sentence of death, which the trial court imposed. Finklea appealed, seeking a new sentencing.  The Court considered the appeal in conjunction with mandatory proportionality review and, finding no error, affirmed. The Court found that the trial court properly determined that Finklea was competent to participate in the sentencing phase and that the Solicitor's demonstrations during closing argument were not so prejudicial as to warrant new sentencing.    
State v. Finklea, No. 26843, is online

The underlying lawsuit arose from Respondent Walsh's legal representation of Appellant Argoe's husband and son. The lower court granted summary judgment to Respondent on all causes of action. Argoe appealed and presented five issues for review. The Court affirmed all issues, agreeing with the trial court that Walsh did not owe a duty of care to Argoe; no evidence was presented to prove intentional infliction of emotional distress; Argoe did not satisfy the elements of a cause of action for legal malpractice; there was no abuse of process by Walsh; and no attorney-client relationship existed so there was no conflict of interest. 
Argoe v. Three Rivers Behavioral Ctr. and Psychiatric Solutions, No. 26844, is online.
Justice Pleicones dissented in a separate opinion. 

In this parental rights case concerning the paternity of a child born in wedlock, the family court ruled for Fisher and against the mother and her husband (the Tuckers) who sought to have the child declared a child of their marriage. The Tuckers appealed, arguing that the family court erred in finding that Fisher defeated South Carolina's common law presumption of legitimacy. The Court found the statutory presumption of S.C. Code Ann. Section 20-7-956(A)(3) (2007) to be controlling in this case. The Court found that the Tuckers produced no evidence to rebut the statutory presumption and affirmed the family court.
Fisher v. Tucker, No. 26845, is online.

Discipline
By order of July 26 the Court disbarred Sherry Bingley Crummey for misconduct which included failing to make mortgage payments for clients from their checks and money orders, failing to remit funds from a settlement to a client, failing to diligently and competently represent clients, failing to remit funds from an estate and from a trust, and failing to pay a court reporter. Ms. Crummey agreed to make full restitution and reimbursement.
 
By order of July 26 the Court issued a public reprimand to James Cullen Galmore for misconduct which included failing to timely communicate with clients and respond to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
 
By order of July 26 the Court issued a public reprimand to Douglas Francis Gay for misconduct which included failing to act with diligence and promptness in representing a client and failing to keep his clients informed.
 
By order of July 26 the Court disbarred Jason Thomas Kellett for misconduct which included failing to notify his clients after an administrative suspension, failing to meet the recordkeeping requirements of Rule 417, failing to honor an assignment of settlement proceeds, failing to file an action within the statute of limitations and misappropriating client funds. Mr. Kellett agreed to meet additional requirements prior to seeking reinstatement.