Celebrate the ADA’s 20th

Today is the last day to register for an exciting event in Charleston on Thursday, September 23rd.

For attorneys, this is a great opportunity to attend a Continuing Legal Education Event to learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its impact over the past 20 years.

The Agenda:

The ADA: Olmstead and Beyond – Elizabeth Priaulx, National Disability Rights Network

The ADA and State Budget Cuts: North Carolina’s Experience – John Rittelmeyer, Disability Rights North Carolina

The ADA and Medicaid Issues: Georgia’s Experience – Joshua Norris, Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc.

The ADA and State Delivery of Services – Panel Discussion

The ADA and the Fair Housing Act: Aging in the Community – Susan Ann Silverstein, AARP Foundation Litigation

The ADA as Civil Rights Litigation: Class Actions and Attorneys’ Fees Issues – Armand Derfner, Derfner Altman & Wilborn

How Do We Maintain the Momentum? – Panel Discussion


  • $50 non-profit attorneys
  • $100 government and private bar
  • Lunch is included in registration fee

For the public, this event offers a special evening of celebration and a chance to meet some passionate disability advocates with a presentation by Samuel Bagenstos. And the reception is free. Registration is required however.

Both these events offer a wonderful opportunity to celebrate 20 years of the ADA! Please join us in the celebration!

For more information, please visit http://www.pandasc.org/.

Hope to see you there!


Have you signed up?

If you’re an attorney who wants to know Everything about Everything, then you want to sign up for the SC Bar CLE entitled “Everything You Want To Know About Everything.”

It will be held LIVE in Columbia at the USC School of Law Auditorium, Columbia, South Carolina and via video-CLE Satellite at the following 11 locations around the state:

The speakers will cover topics from Sentencing to DUI to Self-Represented Litigants to Ethics. I hope to see you there!


SC Bar Convention 2010

Well, I’m heading down to the SC Bar Convention at the Sanctuary on Kiawah. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Island and am looking forward to basking a little, right?

Well, I will be attending some CLEs and am helping the SC Bar Convention staff coordinate the Saturday session about Rule 608. I hope to have some exciting stories to tell and hopefully a few photos. Stay tuned . . .

And, if you’re there, please say “hey” to me!


PS – If you follow @scatj on Twitter, be on the lookout for Convention hashtags – either #SCBar2010 or #SCB2010!

Rule 608 Session Added to the SC Bar Convention



With recent changes to Rule 608, the SC Access to Justice Commission and the SC Bar Convention staff met and decided to add a session reviewing the changes.

If you are already attending the SC Bar Convention, please consider adding this to your list of MUST ATTEND sessions. If you are not already planning to attend, you may wish to reconsider!

There is an excellent panel that will present on the history of Rule 608, the recent changes, the effect of these changes on the SC Commission on Indigent Defense, and perspectives from the SC Legislature. The session will be moderated by Richard Willis of Bowman and Brooke LLP.

Pre-registration is requested.

Bowman and Brooke LLP is sponsoring a box lunch for attendees.

To pre-register please send an email to jmerrill@scbar.org.

Speakers are:

  • Bradish Waring, Chair of the SC Bar’s Rule 608 Task Force;
  • Stuart Andrews, Vice-Chair of the SC Access to Justice Commission;
  • Hugh Ryan, Deputy Director of the SC Commission on Indigent Defense; and
  • Senator Gerald Malloy of the SC Senate and attorney member of the SC Commission on Indigent Defense.

For more information, click here.


12/10/09: Judge Spence

Yesterday I was honored to attend and be a speaker at the Lexington County Bar‘s Annual Conference. Presenters were The Honorable James O. Spence, Master-in-Equity; Desa Ballard, Private Attorney; The Honorable Richard C. Collins, Magistrate;  The Honorable Daniel R. Eckstrom, Probate Court; and me.

The Topic?   Ethical Issues with Pro Se Litigants

Judge Spence opened the session. He noted that how judges and attorneys interact with self-represented litigants (SRLs) depends on them first making a philosophical decision. He showed film clips from The Green Mile and 300.

From The Green Mile:

Paul Edgecomb: What do you want me to do John? You want me to let you run out of here, see how far you can get?
John Coffey: Why would you do such a foolish thing?
Paul Edgecomb: On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That is was my job? My job?

From 300 we learn:

300 tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Persians under the rule of King Xerxes have already taken over some of the Hellenic city-states, and now threaten Sparta and Athens. King Leonidas of Sparta is left with two options: he will either have to sacrifice himself for the well-being of Sparta or watch it burn to the ground. Choosing the former, Leonidas forms an army of 300 Spartan warriors to block the narrow passage of Thermopylae where Xerxes intends to reach Hellas. On the road they meet some allies, who are shocked that the Spartans are sending such a small force. Leonidas asks the professions of the allied army, who are craftsmen and artisans. He points out that he has brought more soldiers than they.

Judge Spence also offered 3 other points for us:

  1. Mom’s Advice: Be Nice and Play Fair!
  2. Viewing Norman Rockwell’s 1961: Do Unto Others
  3. A snippet from The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn” aka Ecclesiastes 3:1


  • We learn that as attorneys and human beings, we are each responsible for how we treat others.
  • As judges and attorneys, we are officers of the court. We are responsible for public trust in us. We gain this trust through respect, dignity and patience. We should be judicious with Summary Judgment motions.
  • We should schedule status conferences and explain standards clearly.
  • We should use Court Reporters to ensure that our words are recorded. This also reminds us that we are “on the record.”
  • SRLs are not one size fits all. They cannot be characterized with broad strokes. Instead they come in all shapes and sizes, like the Armour Hot Dog song.
  • If you are having a hard time, go back to the basics – why did you go into law? It probably wasn’t to take advantage of others. Revisit your motives.

Next installment: Desa Ballard.


A Must Attend Event: November 4, 2009

If you are a law student considering a career in public service or a recent graduate working for the government or a non-profit legal service entity, then mark your calendar for November 4th.

CCRAA program flyer

Heather Jarvis, an attorney specializing in student debt, will present information on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA).

From the Flyer:

Attendees will learn:

  • how the new income-based repayment plan works,
  • how to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and
  • the answers to all your questions about student loans

Special thanks to Pamela D. Robinson, USC School of Law Pro Bono Director, for sharing this special event!


SCATJ Trains Magistrates

Yesterday the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission was pleased to be part of the Orientation for South Carolina Magistrates held at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.

Here is the presentation: Courtroom JUSTICE FOR ALL including SRLs July 2009

Here are some photos from the training:

A question about SRLs
A question about SRLs
Stephanie Nye presents
Stephanie Nye presents
Stephanie responding to a question
Stephanie responding to a question
Magistrates in the classroom
Magistrates in the classroom
Robin speaking
Robin speaking

USC School of Law Librarian Terrye Conroy to receive AALL Public Spirit Award

I’m pleased to post that Terrye Conroy, a Reference/Public Services Librarian at the Coleman Karesh Law Library at USC School of Law will be one of two recipients of the Mersky Spirit of Law Librarianship Award at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

She worked with the South Carolina Library Association, to develop and coordinate the Circuit Riders Outreach Program which travels throughout the state teaching basic legal research skills to non-law librarians in public and academic libraries.

 Congratulations Terrye!


Domestic Violence—Access to Legal Assistance

            Robin gave me some of the information she received at the recent Equal Justice Conference in Orlando.  A handout from the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence immediately stood out to me.  They are creating a National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Legal Service Provider Directory.  This directory will increase the number of pro bono attorney’s working with victims of domestic violence.  The directory will be available this summer on their website ProBono.Net.  Through programs in the directory the Commission will use, train and mentor volunteer lawyers.  The directory will make access to the legal process easier for victims of domestic violence.

            Domestic violence is an enormous problem in South Carolina.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 35,894 people were victims of domestic violence.  Domestic violence resulted in 28% of the murders in South Carolina in 2006.   The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports that South Carolina ranks 2nd in the nation for the number of women killed by men. 

            If you are an attorney interested in helping victims of domestic violence visit www.abanet.org/domviol to see how you can help.  You can also receive CLE credit by watching a Webinar series on Domestic violence But hurry, the Webinar ends May 27th!


Arrived in Orlando, Stay Tuned

This week I’ll be covering the Equal Justice Conference here in sunny, er, stormy Orlando. I can’t wait to hear and share innovative thoughts on ways to keep services even while funding is decreasing.

Stay tuned. And for twitterers – check out #09EJC.