Chief Justice Toal Presents . . .

Recently Chief Justice Toal of the Supreme Court of South Carolina delivered two important speeches; one to the SC Bar at their annual convention at Kiawah, and one to the SC House Ways and Means.

The takeaway? The financial crisis is taking its toll on the efficiency of the courts. While this may seem like a “duh” moment to many and a “d’oh” moment to others, the repercussions to access to justice could be devastating.

Let’s support our courts and keep access to our courts.

-RFW

Why South Carolina Attorneys – I DO DECLARE!

I came across this Declaration of Commitment to Clients while searching for something else this morning. While I’d seen it before and even have a pretty copy of it in my files, it wasn’t and isn’t often that I pull it out to remind myself of my duties. Oh sure, I have every intention of doing so, but you’ve heard about good intentions paving the way to . . . At any rate, I thoughtfully reviewed each commitment. From the number of complaints/information that come into the SC Bar about attorneys not calling or keeping their clients up-to-date, you’d think that attorneys really aren’t serving our clients. But I do realize that for every complaint that comes in, there are 4 or 5 attorneys doing exactly what they’ve committed to do. They keep in regular contact with their clients. They preserve client confidences. In a nutshell, they honor their commitment.

My Declaration of Commitment to Clients
My Declaration of Commitment to Clients
 
So, why the column? Well, it’s the line where atorneys are committed “to make our legal system MORE ACCESSIBLE and RESPONSIVE” to our clients. It’s right there in Black-n-White (and yellow).
Are we doing that? The answer is yes, we are. At least some of us. Within the South Carolina Access to Justice community, there are initiatives regarding court forms -adding them to the website for more accessibility to judges, attorneys and the public as well as make sure that they are written in PLAIN ENGLISH. Initial work is on putting together a Divorce Packet – based on one year separation, no children, no property. The packet will contain not only the forms, but instructions for completing the forms as well. And, more forms and instructional packets are to follow.

You may wonder who has been involved in this process. ATTORNEYS. That’s right, attorneys. Court Administration attorneys. Supreme Court attorneys. Legal Services attorneys. South Carolina Bar attorneys. South Carolina Family Court Judges – all of whom are attorneys.

Congratulations South Carolina! Your attorneys are working to make the law and its many processes easier to follow and understand.
-RFW
 

Hey South Carolina Law Students – Check out Rule 401!

On Friday October 10, 2008, the South Carolina Supreme Court amended Rule 401 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules to allow students from both South Carolina law schools to represent and assist indigent defendants and State agencies under the supervision of the Clinical Legal Education programs at each respective school.

This is good news for access to justice in SC!

-RFW

Former TX Supreme Court Justice: Legal Prof’ls are guardians of justice

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch spoke at a luncheon on Wednesday. According to MyWestTexas.com, he spoke about the role of legal professionals in upholding the rule of law and access to justice. Excerpts include:

  • “Administering or guarding the rules that keep the system of justice in place is a critical component of the job of any legal professional . . . as the Constitution is only superior because of the way it’s applied through due process, not simply because of the words our founders wrote.”
  • “[There is] the significant role legal professionals play in the lives of citizens whether settling disputes about car accidents or deciding whether a mother should be granted custody of her children.”
  • “To be in the legal profession then is to be a servant to others.”

Everyday justice.

Hmm. Nice Concept. Legal professionals working to bring about justice everyday for all.

-RFW