Report of the Task Force on State Courts and the Elderly Released

Today the Supreme Court of South Carolina released the Report of the Task Force on State Courts and the Elderly.

It is well worth reading, if only to note how South Carolina demographics have changed over the years and to see predictions for our future.

Well done!

-RFW

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

Details:

  • $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!

-RFW

Fall 2010: Law School for Non-Lawyers

Law School for Non-Lawyers

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time and not just for kids!
You can go back to school too, via the SC Bar’s Law School for Non-Lawyers course.
The program is a 7-week Law School for Non-Lawyers course covering a variety of general legal subjects. The registration fee is $45 which includes course materials.

Covered topics include:

  • Overview of State Courts
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Family Law
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Child Protection Hearings
  • Wills, Estates and Probate Law
  • Health Care and Elder Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Consumer Law and Debt Collection
  • Real Estate and Landlord/Tenant Law
  • Employment Law
  • South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts

The following courses are currently scheduled:

Trident Technical College

Offered every Tuesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

September 14, 2010 through October 26, 2010

7000 Rivers Avenue, N. Charleston

Building 910, Room 123

To register, call 843-574-6152 or visit www.tridenttech.edu

HURRY, Registration ends September 7th

Horry/Georgetown Technical College

Every Monday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Beginning September 20, 2010 through November 1, 2010

743 Hemlock Dr., Myrtle Beach

Building 200, Room 136

To register, call 843-477-2020 or 843-349-5363 or visit www.hgtc.edu

HURRY, Registration ends September 14th

For any other questions or concerns you have, please contact Debbie Morris at dmorris@scbar.org or 800-395-3425, ext. 158.

The Law School for Non-Lawyers is made possible through an IOLTA grant from the SC Bar Foundation.

Attorney Volunteers Needed!


On November 20, 2009, the Supreme Court of South Carolina amended Rule 608 so that attorneys will no longer be appointed as Guardians ad Litem (GALs) in Family Court. This amendment went into effect on July 1, 2010. While there are GAL programs in effect to cover DSS Child Protective cases, there are currently no such programs for Adult Protective cases.

In late spring, an ad hoc group formed to develop a plan to address the GAL system for Emergency Adult Protective Service cases. As a stop-gap measure, the group has implemented a six-month interim program in which volunteer attorneys will serve as GALs in APS cases until December 31, 2010.

Historically, there have been approximately 500 Emergency Adult Protective Service cases per year. Most counties have an average of 8-9 cases per year:[1] eight counties reported zero cases in 2009-2010[2] with Charleston and Richland Counties having 41 and 40 cases, respectively. Only three counties had more than 20, but less than 30 APS cases, Berkeley (21), Kershaw (27), and Newberry (21). Five counties reported only 1 case during the report year.[3]

The Emergency Adult Protective Services cases typically last approximately six months, as opposed to the Child Protective Service cases, which may last years. In preparation for these cases, the ad hoc group developed a PowerPoint and statutory guide for reference. These materials are available online at http://lawhelp.org/sc/searchresults.cfm/language/1?q=adult+protective+services+guardian+ad+litem.

Attorneys interested in volunteering to serve as volunteer GALs in APS cases should contact Cindy Coker at (803) 799-6653, ext. 142 or ccoker@scbar.org.

Volunteers will receive pro bono malpractice coverage as well as pro bono credit for appointments.


[1] This average is based on 45 counties, excluding Spartanburg, which had 132 APS cases in 2009-2010.

[2] Abbeville, Barnwell, Florence, Georgetown, Jasper, Lee, Lancaster, and McCormick.

[3] Allendale, Bamberg, Cherokee, Dorchester, and Saluda.

RESOURCE FRIDAY!

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve added a RESOURCE FRIDAY post. BUT here’s one I couldn’t resist.

For attorneys and others interested in becoming Guardians ad Litem (GALs) in Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation cases for Vulnerable Adults in South Carolina, there is a resource page just for you – click here.

And, for those of you who aren’t already familiar with lawhelp.org/sc, you may want to check it out! It’s chock full of nifty tips and resources!

-RFW

Help Protect Vulnerable Adults! Volunteer as a Pro Bono GAL . . .

Help Protect South Carolina’s Vulnerable Adults!

Volunteer Today as a Pro Bono Attorney Guardian Ad Litem in APS Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation Cases!

On November 20, 2009, the Supreme Court of South Carolina amended Rule 608 so that attorneys will no longer be appointed as Guardians ad Litem (GALs) in Family Court. This amendment takes effect NEXT WEEK on July 1, 2010. (http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/displayWhatsNew.cfm?indexId=600)
While there are GAL programs in effect to cover DSS Child Protective cases, there are no such programs for Adult Protective cases.
South Carolina APS Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Cases 2007-2009
The Need is Great

An ad hoc group has formed to develop a plan to address the GAL system for Emergency Adult Protective Service cases. The group has decided to implement a six-month stop gap in which volunteer attorneys will serve as GALs in APS cases until December 2010.

Attorneys interested in volunteering to serve as volunteer GALs in APS cases should contact Cindy Coker at (803) 799-6653, ext. 142 or ccoker@scbar.org.

Volunteers will receive pro bono credit for appointments.

-RFW

Ed McMahon, Your Legacy Lives On

Most everyone is familiar with Ed McMahon and the American Family Publishers Sweepstakes prize.  And some of us waited patiently for him to show up at our door with balloons and an over-sized check. Watching the few lucky prize winners was always a thrill. And today I had the honor of delivering balloons and flowers to the 2009 Ellen Hines Smith South Carolina Legal Services award recipient, Maureen White.

While the official award will be presented at the SC Bar Foundation Gala on March 11, 2010, Shannon Willis Scruggs of the SC Bar Foundation, and I delivered the good news to Ms. White today at the Greenville office of South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS). And wow, what a great feeling! To say that Ms. White was surprised would be an understatement. Below you’ll see some photos as we interrupted the Thursday morning staffing.

A little more about Ms. White:

  • She started work at SCLS in March 1997;
  • During her time at SCLS, she has conquered many legal issues including landlord/tenant, divorce, consumer and disability matters;
  • She is currently the lead bankruptcy attorney within the consumer unit of SCLS; and
  • She moved to South Carolina from Ohio where she had practiced for 12 years.

A few notes from the people who nominated her:

When she started at SCLS: Almost immediately, (no one can remember exactly when), she was fully oriented to the legal aid culture and was building a diverse caseload that has grown beyond all boundaries owing to her famous zeal at case acceptance meetings.

The justice system is better for her example, energy and abundant legal skill. Her humor enlivened every case acceptance meeting.

I could not be more impressed with her professionalism and cheerful work ethic – she is uniquely motivated in her desire to help others.

Maureen’s most significant achievement on a statewide level has been her work as our Lead Bankruptcy Attorney. When SCLS’ Bankruptcy Roadshow was created by the Consumer Unit, Maureen led the way as we went around the state training SCLS attorneys to handle bankruptcy cases. We significantly increased the number of attorneys handling bankruptcy and the number of clients being served by SCLS filing bankruptcy for them.

Meet Ms. Maureen White:

Once again – congratulations Maureen White!

And Ed McMahon – thanks for the inspiration . . . it’s a lot of fun to surprise people with flowers, balloons, and good news!

-RFW

Why did I become a lawyer?

Most of us begin to fashion a response  to the question when we’re asked “Why do YOU want to go to law school?” And if you’re surrounded by friends who are not in the legal profession, you may hear the follow-up “You’re such a nice person. Why do you want to change?”

I replied “I want to help people.” And you know what? Many attorneys in the public interest sector answered similarly.

You may not generally think of attorneys as helpful, but take a few moments to ponder “when do I or would I use an attorney?”

  • When a family member dies. Hopefully they’ve drafted a will, but either way, we often turn to an attorney to help us through the probate process.
  • When we go through a divorce. Sure there are divorce forms and packets available online (and in South Carolina, there are court-approved forms online), but when we think about it, isn’t it prudent to let someone who is not emotionally involved in our marriage take a look and advise us about the long-term effects of the dissolution?
  • When we buy or sell a house. This may not seem like an emotional time, but for many it is. This is one of the largest purchases (ok, probably the largest) we will ever make. We commit to this home for the next 30 years or so. Sounds like a good time to have an attorney research the title and make sure we’re paying for what is rightfully ours.
  • When we are accused of a crime. I know I want someone well-versed in criminal law to fight for my freedom.

In other words, we use the knowledge and services of attorneys when we have big events in our lives – either when something bad has happened or may happen. To help us.

And I became an attorney to do just that – help people.

-RFW

Seniors and Caregivers: We Need Your Feedback

The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission and the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging are partners in a project to identify and address legal needs of South Carolina Seniors living in poverty.  South Carolina is one of eleven states in 2009 that received a grant for Administration on Aging’s Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems.

And we need YOU! Well, your information please. In order for us to complete PHASE ONE – the Legal Needs Assessment – we need to have information from Seniors and Caregivers.

It’s easy to do – either click here for the online survey or Final ATJC Senior Survey Document for the Senior survey (pdf) or Final ATJC Caregiver Survey Document for the Caregiver survey (pdf).

Thanks!

-RFW

12/10/09: The Honorable Daniel R. Eckstrom

Last Thursday, I attended and spoke at the Lexington County Bar’s Annual Conference. Among the 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.

This post covers the Honorable Daniel R. Eckstrom, Lexington County Probate Judge.

Judge Eckstrom began his presentation with an acknowledgment that the number of self-represented litigants is rising – in all levels of court. He noted that it is especially important for judges to be impartial in perception AND fact. He noted that as judges we should explain more about the process. As attorneys, when the other side is self-represented, we need to make sure that we are very clear about who we represent – especially when there are multiple parties involved.

Good info!

If you want more information about this CLE, watch the SC Bar’s website. The presentation was filmed and will be available for distance learning at a later date!

-RFW