South Carolina Attorneys: Do you have malpractice for that 608 appointment?

. . .

Ok, every South Carolina attorney I know is tired of dredging up Rule 608. However, there continues to be a LOT of discussion around Rule 608, including the Attorney Volunteer Guardian ad Litem project.

Last November/December, the Supreme Court of South Carolina made several changes to Rule 608 appointments, some advocated by the SC Bar, some via recommendations submitted by the SC Access to Justice Commission. And just recently we learned that the funds to reimburse attorneys providing legal representation pursuant to a Rule 608 appointment are no longer available.

BUT I do have some news that may be of interest to the average South Carolina attorney!

If you (SC Attorney) follow appropriate protocol[1], you (SC Attorney) are eligible for malpractice coverage for your Rule 608 appointment.

Here’s what I have do:

  1. I receive my Rule 608 appointment, either by U.S. Mail or Fax or email.
  2. That day I complete my Pro Bono Program Direct Intake Form. Please follow the instructions to either fax the form to Attn: Rose Dean, (803) 799-5290 OR mail to Attn: Rose Dean, South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, P.O. Box 608, Columbia, SC 29202.
  3. With 1 week, I receive a response from Ms. Rose Dean with a South Carolina Bar Program Closure Form.
  4. If I do NOT receive a response from Ms. Dean within one week, I resend the information.

Good luck fellow attorneys!

-RFW


[1] From the SC Bar’s website – http://www.scbar.org/member_resources/pro_bono_program/

Malpractice insurance
Pro Bono lawyers who take case referrals, serve as LAMP volunteers, participate in Ask-A-Lawyer and lead free legal clinics are automatically covered on every Pro Bono case accepted! Lawyers who do pro bono legal work on their own, or who are appointed pursuant to Rule 608, are also covered by malpractice insurance through the Pro Bono Program. To initiate this coverage, complete the Pro Bono Intake form (see link above) and fax it to Rose Dean at 803-799-5290. You must submit the form to Ms. Dean before commencing work on the client’s case. [emphasis added]

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

Rule 608 Session Added to the SC Bar Convention

HEAR YE, HEAR YE,

RULE 608 HAS BEEN AMENDED!

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.

-RFW

Rule 608

SC Appellate Court Rules, Rule 608. Appointment of Lawyers for Indigents

January 2009. The South Carolina Bar (SCBar) files a petition with the Supreme Court of South Carolina to modify Rule 608 so that no attorneys would be appointed to serve as lawyers for indigents without full compensation.

February 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina forwards the SCBar’s request to the South Carolina Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission to study and make recommendations. The SCATJ Commission convenes the Pro Bono Committee to discuss the request.

Spring into Summer 2009. The SCATJ Commission’s Pro Bono Committee and its Rule 608 Work Group meet to study and review the Rule. The Rule 608 Work Group invites interested parties to meet to discuss issues related to Rule 608. The Rule 608 Work Group meets with the SCBar’s Board of Governors, the SCBar’s Rule 608 Task Force, and others.

July 15, 2009. The SCATJ Commission submits its findings and recommendations to the Court.

July 22, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina modifies Rule 608 regarding exemptions.

November 20, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina amends Rule 608 appointments to end the appointment of attorneys as guardians ad litem (GALs) in the Family Court.

December 17, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina amends Rule 608, effective July 1, 2010,  adopting a number of the recommended appointments. The Supreme Court notes that it will continue to analyze and scrutinize appointments to determine whether further changes are necessary. Specifically the Court will continue to gather data regarding the appointments.

Highlights of the Amendments:

  • Modifications to the Regional List from which attorneys may be selected to assist in handling appointments in other counties – 6 Regional Lists (Region 6 split 1/2 year);
  • Reduced number of appointments in an appointment year – from 10 to 7;
  • Increased the pool of eligible attorneys by raising the age exemption to 65 years of age;
  • Technology advances – attorneys may attend certain hearings by telephone or videoconference;
  • Increased reporting requirements to the SC Bar so that the Court may accurately analyze the appointments by county and type of appointment.

And while the Court graciously thanked all who served on the Rule 608 study group, I too would like to thank the Commissioners, the SC Bar, Court Administration, Court IT personnel, and others who spent numerous hours reviewing data and rerunning data for our study. Thank you!

-RFW

For more posts on Rule 608, click here.

SC Access to Justice Commission’s Recommendations re: Rule 608

After the E-Newsletter was distributed earlier this week, the Commission received many requests from individuals and organizations wanting to review the recommendations.

Below is a copy of the cover letter as well as the accompanying exhibits:

COLUMBIA-#6098475-v1-071509_rule_608_ltr_to_chief_justice _2_

Exhibit A1 – Recommended amendments to RULE 608 _2_

Exhibit A2 – RULE 608 – redline _2_

Exhibit B – 5 Appts per Region 7 8 09

Exhibit C – Statement of April 2009 re 608 _2_

Exhibit D – Access Subcommittee filing 6 09 v4 _4_ _2_

-RFW

Listening Matters

This has been an interesting day.

This morning I attended a part of the SC Judicial Conference. The SC Access to Justice Commission’s website was featured along with some special projects with divisions of the SC Courts, especially two projects for Self-Represented Litigants.

Afterward I returned to the office to begin other work, especially that involving increasing pro bono service by the private bar. And if you’re not familiar with Rule 608 which some private bar members attribute as the primary barrier to increased pro bono service in South Carolina, click here.

At any rate, I entered a discussion of pro bono. In the midst of an enthusiastic discussion, one of the three participants advocated a position.  Immediately I (re)entered the discussion and proceeded to reject this concept. At the end of my pontification, I sat back in my chair, feeling satisfied that my response had enlightened both participants. Instead, the person who had originally advocated the position, re-stated the position. I turned to both participants and said “oh, you said [legal term].” Both nodded in agreement. At that, I apologized and agreed with the original position.

Please note:

  • Listening is courteous.

  • Listening is efficient.

  • Listening Matters.

-RFW

Photos from 6.17.09 Commission Meeting

Yesterday the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission held its meeting from 10:30 a.m. until a few minutes after 2:00 p.m. We were fortunate to start the morning with presentations from two Commissioners who work with Philanthropic Organizations – Tom Keith of Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and Mac Bennett of United Way of the Midlands.
Commissioner Tom Keith Presents
Commissioner Tom Keith Presents
Commissioner Mac Bennett presents
Commissioner Mac Bennett presents

Several guests were in attendance as we discussed issues related to Staffed Programs such as South Carolina Legal Services and initiatives relating to Self-Represented Litigants.

Commissioners and guests at the 6.17.09 meeting
Commissioners and guests at the 6.17.09 meeting
The Hon. Michelle Childs, Chief Admin Judge of the SC 5th Circuit, and Tanya Gee of the SC Court of Appeals discuss SRLs
The Hon. Michelle Childs, Chief Admin Judge of the SC 5th Circuit, and Tanya Gee of the SC Court of Appeals discuss SRLs
The Commission then discussed progress on Rule 608 with members of the work group in attendance.
Louise Cooper of the SC GAL program and Hugh Ryan of SC Commission on Indigent Defense
Louise Cooper of the SC GAL program and Hugh Ryan of SC Commission on Indigent Defense
Commissioners and Guests
Commissioners and Guests
Allie Bullard, our Pro Bono law clerk, working hard at the meeting
Allie Bullard, our Pro Bono law clerk, working hard at the meeting

 Special thanks to Cindy Sullivan, Willson Powell, and Jada Bannen of Nelson Mullins for their assistance!

Photographs by Stephanie A. Nye.

-RFW