Showing posts with label family court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family court. Show all posts

SC DSS: Your tax dollars at ... work?!?

Legislative budget cutters might want to consider outlawing SC DSS to save tax dollars, with another high-profile report of gross negligence by the agency in Kershaw County:

An Elgin mother and her boyfriend were in jail after her 22-month-old son walked away from their house Sunday for the second time in eight days.

Jacklyn Marie Jacobson, the 25-year-old mother, and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Jose Bleckler Gloria, both of Ashley Creek Drive in Elgin, were in the Kershaw County Detention Center on charges of unlawful neglect of a child, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said. The boy and a 6-month-old baby, who also lived in the home, have been taken into protective custody by the S.C. Department of Social Services, he said.

In light of the agency's heavy-handed approach taken towards many parents who are targeted by anonymous complaints, including serial complaints, it's inexcusable to see the agency taking no action to the first instance of gross neglect, which took place earlier this month. The Kershaw County Sheriff wasn't sure why the child was allowed back in the home after the first incident:

Support Ronnie Norton for the Family Court

According to Zane Wilson’s story in the Friday edition of the Myrtle Beach Sun News, the ongoing saga of Anita Floyd’s second attempt to get on the Family Court in the 15th Circuit appears to be continuing its downward spiral:

Ronnie Norton appeared to have enough votes Thursday to ensure that he will be elected judge of Horry County's family court.

A week ago, the race was a tossup, but now Norton has "a strong lead," said Rep. Vida Miller, D-Pawleys Island, who supported Floyd but said that is not because she has anything against Norton.

"He is a very nice person," and both candidates are "very qualified," Miller said.

Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, said both are "great candidates," and both have strong supporters, especially among Horry County's lawyers.

But it was the "flip-flopping" of the S.C. Bar Association report on Floyd that hurt her chances and raised questions among many legislators, he said.

A year ago, the bar, which interviews 30 attorneys who know a candidate, found Floyd highly qualified. In December, the same group said she was not qualified.

The Bar Association's director said such differences can arise when different lawyers are interviewed for the reports on candidates.

Norton, on the other hand, had "all positive" comments from the bar, which caused many lawmakers to pick him, Cleary said.


That Ms. Floyd is in trouble comes as little surprise to us. The image her supporters have presented do her no favors and in looking at several assessments of her qualifications, the findings have been inconsistent, presenting a record that seems somewhat questionable. When contrasted against Mr. Norton, it’s hard for them not to see some major differences, which probably has much to do with Norton’s lead.

We’ve talked with Ronnie Norton, as well as a number of his supporters. He’s a decent guy, thoughtful and deliberate, and his supporters have been positive and supportive of their candidate. We can see why he’s doing so well at picking up support from legislators.

Norton’s reviews have been 100% positive and supportive. No questions have been raised about him at any step of the way, and nobody has had anything bad to say about him or his qualifications.

In addition to the mean-spiritied and semi-literate rantings we’ve seen from Ms. Floyd’s supporters on this blog, the consistency of positive reviews has been another noticeable, and refreshing, difference between him and Ms. Floyd.

Those legislators who are supporting Mr. Norton are doing the right thing. We also support Ronnie Norton's judicial candidacy and ask those legislators who are still uncommitted to join us in supporting him for this well-deserved judicial seat.

On Shaky Ground: Anita Floyd's judicial candidacy

This week, candidates in the upcoming judicial elections will be free to seek votes from state legislators. Before they do, the Blogland's crack investigative team would like to share a tidbit we gleaned from the S.C. Bar's assessments of judicial candidates.

While we invited all the judicial candidates to participate in Blogland interviews, we're not really surprised that Anita Floyd, an attorney from Conway and candidate for the 15th Circuit Family Court seat, refused our invitation to interview, as she probably wouldn't have been very comfortable explaining this part of her bar review:

After interviewing a minimum of 30 members of the Bar who have knowledge of the candidate’s integrity, competence and temperament and interviewing the candidate, the Committee reports the following information. Ms. Floyd has extensive experience in Family Court Matters. She is described as possessing above average legal knowledge and diligence. Concerns were raised by members of the Bar about Ms. Floyd’s temperament, professionalism, and candor. Based on the information and interview, the Committee reports that it is the collective opinion that the candidate is not qualified to serve as a Family Court Judge.

Having done more than our fair share of quantitative research in graduate school, we wanted to understand the process used to ensure that the survey sample is truly representative of the general opinions of attorneys who would have experience with Ms. Floyd. To help with this, the Blogland spoke with four attorneys regarding the Bar's interview process. All four are current members of the South Carolina Bar. Here are the points all four agreed upon:
  • The "minimum of 30 members of the Bar" is a just that - the very least interviews they will conduct. They will often conduct more than 30 interviews.

  • In the event serious concerns are raised, the number of interviews they complete will be increased considerably to help ensure the negative comments are relatively representative and not just the sentiments of a pocket of disgruntled attorneys.

  • Attorneys are generally cautious about their statements when interviewed, and they will often avoid raising concerns except in extreme situations.
In some of these discussions, it was pointed out that in the case of Floyd, the "more than thirty interviews" which were conducted of attorneys (we were told that the actual number ended up being between 50 and 60) who have practiced law in Floyd's home turf represented a large percentage of all attorneys in Horry County.

We would like to have seen those comments, or at least some excerpts from those statements,and hopefully we will see them in future judicial races. However, the general methodology upon which these assessments are made seems fairly sound, in comparison with scientific approaches at surveying. Therefore, we believe that the report of the South Carolina Bar, with regard to attorney Anita Floyd, presents credible concerns which the General Assembly cannot ignore.

We aren't sure if this information is being provided to legislators along with the JMSC assessments, but in case it's not, we're posting this information here. We simply ask that they review all the information, decide for themselves which information is more objective and valid, and make up their minds accordingly.

We're not trying to say that the JMSC findings are not without merit. However, when the choice is between one candidate who was rejected by one review, and another who was found qualified by both, the smart thing to do would be to pick the one who passed both reviews, not just one of them.

Those who sit on the bench must meet very high standards, especially with regard to honesty and fairness. Given recent events with regard to the grading of Bar exams, the need to re-establish credibility in our judicial and legal professions is greater than ever. If the legislature truly wants to help move our state's judiciary towards a higher standard, they should reject Ms. Floyd's judicial candidacy.


Going to jail for thirty six bucks? Only in Dorchester County

It’s no secret that many county courthouse offices across our state are filled with hacks who were elected far more upon their political associations than actual qualifications related to the jobs they hold.

In looking at the qualifications of Cheryl Graham, the Dorchester County Clerk of Court, who holds a degree in dental assisting, one can't help but ask themselves how she's qualified for her job.

When the qualification of the person at the top is questionable, it can only lead one to wonder how they lead their department and what kind of staffing choices they made. The IQ level of her staff is certainly in question after yours truly received a letter notifying me of a thirty-six dollar balance due that had been rolling over in my child support account for the last three years … and threatening me with court action unless I pay up.

My weekly payment for my daughter Bonnie is eighty-four dollars, or twelve dollars a day. This means that three years ago, a payment was exactly three days late, which is the difference between receiving a payment on a Friday or Monday. Yep folks, you can bet it's time to call out the firing squad.

This is not the first problem I’ve had with the staff of her office. A few years ago, they screwed it up by $1800, and then tried to get me locked up when I questioned it. After a considerable amount of trouble, including a bench warrant that was issued and then rescinded, a judge ordered the account corrected. Not surprisingly, there was no explanation or apology from Graham or her staff for their royal screw-up and heavy-handed treatment.

The attorney who helped me clear that mess up warned me that Graham’s staff had it in for me and that I’d better watch out. When I’m threatened with court over thirty six bucks, I guess that attorney was right.

Will I pay it? Since the arrearage looks legitimate to me, and the money is for my daughter, of course I will. But they sure as heck could have been nicer about it.

So be warned that here in Dorchester County, if you’re so much as three days behind in child support, it might take three years for them to figure it out, but when they do, you can bet Cheryl Graham and her team will be coming for you.

If yours truly gets threatened over being three days late, then that must mean that all those other deadbeats who don’t pay for months or even years are caught up with their back child support or they're in jail, right?

Somehow, I rather doubt it.

Lexington County program to reduce dropped CDV charges?

The Lexington County Sheriff's office is launching a program to use detectives to keep those accused of domestic violence from attempting to sweet talk their accusers out of dropping charges:

Some men just won’t stop beating women, and Lexington County is trying to block the blows in a novel way.

The Sheriff’s Department has a $1 million plan to hire specialized detectives to combat accused batterers who figure no one can stop them from intimidating or sweet-talking their partners to avoid prosecution.

It would be an innovative, expensive plan that no other police agency in South Carolina has, law enforcement agencies and victim rights advocates said.

Prosecutors hope it helps them convict more batterers when victims are reluctant to cooperate, like the Sheriff’s Department said has happened in 80 percent of its cases since mid-2005.
- The State, 5/27/2007

It's no small secret that some use this process, via bogus CDV charges, to wear down an adverse party during a divorce fight, but in those cases, the accused aren't following their ex-people around, trying to convince them to drop the charges or get them to come back - they usually WANT their accusers to go away.

The ones who are trying to harass the accusers into dropping charges are those who have no defense and therefore will do anything to get charges dropped and continue their abusive and predatory behavior.

Let's hope this program bears fruit.