We are pleased to share our latest newsletter.
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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.
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.
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!
Earlier I mentioned that I attended and spoke at the Lexington County Bar’s Annual Conference last Thursday. 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.
In a previous post were notes I made from Judge Spence’s presentation. This post will cover notes from Desa Ballard’s presentation.
Now, if you’re an attorney practicing in South Carolina, you’ve probably heard of Desa – via the Advance Sheets. A quick Google search turns up a good many instances in which Desa is counsel in Attorney Discipline cases. Often when Desa speaks, people listen. She offers good advice and ethical guidance.
After Judge Spence offered his words of wisdom, Desa referenced that when working with SRLs, we need only reference familiar material – the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum – specifically PLAY FAIR.
Of particular note, she mentioned that most of her discipline cases begin with a notion of fairness or lack thereof. In most instances, the aggrieved party alleges that they were not treated FAIRLY. And, if the attorney has no objective witness (i.e. court reporter) to substantiate what was said, the case becomes very complicated very quickly.
Desa noted that there are two standards for SRLs – criminal and civil. In criminal courts, there is an absolute right to represent oneself. In some instances, courts will appoint “stand-by” counsel. She noted that these appointments should not be entered into lightly. Point of reference – a 2007 ABA Advisory Opinion directly on point. The attorney owes a duty to the system, with very limited obligations to the “client.” In fact, the attorney is expressly prohibited from interfering with the SRL’s decisions of how to represent himself.
She referenced Rules 4.2 and 4.3; noting that attorneys should refer back to them to make sure we understand our role. Rule 4.2 is especially important when attorneys are representing ourselves or our friends. Rule 4.3 helps us clarify our role when we are representing our clients against self-represented litigants.
When Desa mentioned “ghostwriting,” a popular topic recently, she emphasized that we, the attorneys, are the ones who are supposed to be objective AND professional. Additionally, we can and should refer back to rules to ensure that we are acting appropriately within our ethical guidelines. After all, as attorneys, we are bound by ethics!
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.
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:
Next installment: Desa Ballard.