Happy New Year! Welcome 2014

It’s been a really good year for South Carolina Access to Justice! Below is our newsletter that highlights a few items we’ve been working on.

SCATJ Newsletter End of Year 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!


It’s official – Poster and FAQs online – en español

Good News!  ¡Buenas noticias!

The South Carolina Courts’ Self-Help Page now offers FAQs (General Questions, Circuit Court and Family Court) and an explanation about what court staff can and cannot in Spanish!

And many thanks to student volunteers with the USC School of Law’s Pro Bono Program and the kind folks at HABLA!


Extra Extra: Supreme Court of SC approves Self-Help Center Pilot


Earlier today, South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal announced a pilot program for a Self-Help Center for Self-Represented Litigants in Newberry County.

At the end of the 2-year pilot program, the SC Access to Justice Commission will provide a report detailing the program’s effectiveness and making recommendations for further action.

Stay tuned!


To Allie: Good Luck!

This morning, reality set in. Paychecks count.

The SCATJ Commission’s law clerk, Allie, gave notice.  She had been working here for free and now she has the opportunity to be paid for her work.

She helped us with many projects and was a valuable team member. We wish her the best of luck and look forward to updates from her.

Best of Luck Allie!
Best of Luck Allie!


Initial Thoughts

I am excited to spend my summer with SC Access to Justice! I spent the last two days orienting myself to what SC Access to Justice is commissioned to do and the issues are currently before us. There is so much going on and I am eager to get my feet wet exploring topics including Rule 608, bundling v. unbundling services, encouraging lawyers to use plain language when communicating with the public and exploring ways to work with the growing number of self-represented litigants.

– Allie

SC Access to Justice: Orlando-bound!


Next week the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (NLADA) is hosting the 2009 Equal Justice Conference in Orlando and SC Access to Justice will be in attendance.

This is a great place to learn about innovations around the country and share knowledge with others interested in civil poverty law.

Stay tuned for updates via Twitter and on the blog. And, yes, I’ll have the camera and maybe even some videos to share.


$44 million infusion to 20 counties to mitigate foreclosures!

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SCSHA) announced the $44,673,692 infusion to South Carolina via the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to help 20 counties with the highest foreclosure rates and targeted areas with high levels of subprime mortgages, mortgage defaults and delinquencies.

Greenville County received $2,262,856 and Richland County received $2,221,859 in separate allocations.

To review the HUD interactive map online, click here. According to the SCSHA, the NSP received allocations over $2 billion via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Thanks to the Columbia Regional Business Report for tipping SC Access to Justice about the story.


FREE OR LOW COST Online Legal Research Tools


As many of us try to limit our costs, any low cost or free alternatives are appreciated.

Thanks to our friends at Techno.la for pointing SC Access to Justice toward this resource out of Georgetown.

The Georgetown Law Library has put together an online guide for legal research indicating which services offer state court information, which ones offer federal court information, which have case law, which have statutes, etc.


You Say Pro-VI-so, I say Pro-VEE-So

ProVIso, ProVEEso, it’s all about the Proviso!

Before I moved to South Carolina, I was not familiar with Provisos, however I have learned that a lot of policy changes result from Provisos.

And one recent Proviso has caught my eye, found at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/citizensinterestpage/Ways&MeansMeetingHandouts/LawEnfSubcSubcRectoProvisoSubc.pdf#page=5 and starting at 47.fca ADD (Family Court Attorney Appointment Study Group).

Why is this of particular interest to SC Access to Justice?

  • Its purpose is to Improve the process of appointing private attorneys to family court actions.
  • There is NO Fiscal Impact (read additional cost) on the General Fund. 
  • And it may serve to alleviate the issues raised in the SC Access to Justice Commission’s public hearings regarding Rule 608 appointments.

It’s a great start to exploring solutions to continue to provide legal representation to individuals in need.


Sanctions Against Self-Represented Litigant

It happened.

In the California case In Re Marriage of Falcone & Fyke (2008 ) 164 Cal.App.4th 814.

While many have considered this blog a virtual cheerleader for Self-Represented Litigants, it is important to note that the SC Access to Justice Commission’s preference is for all individuals, regardless of ability to pay, to have access to and receive competent legal representation in court cases.

SC Access to Justice would prefer that all individuals, regardless of ability to pay, have access to and receive competent legal representation in court cases.

And In Re Marriage of Falcone and Fyke reminds us all that going into the courtroom is a serious undertaking AND that Self-Represented Litigants are held to the same standard as attorneys.

SRLs and Attorneys take heed.

To read the opinion, click here.