Articles Worth Reading

articles-worth-reading

For your information needs and reading pleasure, check out the following articles:

  1.  4 Ways Employers Can Combat Sexual Harassment;
  2.  5 Traits of a Terrible Law Firm Leader;
  3.  Boies’ Mea Culpa Doesn’t Cut It;
  4.  Ethically Outsourcing Social Media Management;
  5.  Justice Ginsburg on Her Feminist Path to the Notorious RBG;
  6.  Make Way for the “Unicorns”;
  7.  Relationships 3.0:  The Idea Relationship Era;
  8.  South Carolina Chief Justice Tells Judges to Stop Jailing Poor Defendants Without     Lawyers;
  9.  The 5 Law Firms with the Savviest Social Media Strategies; and
  10.  What I Learned in My 1st Year:  Get Real, But Get It Right.

Happy reading!

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Building the Legal Community Through Online Platforms

 

Computer

By: Jessica Mantekas

During a Legal Technology in Practice class at Charleston School of Law, we got the unique opportunity to listen to Greg Lambert, a well-known “Librarian/Lawyer/Knowledge Management/Competitive Analysis/Computer Programmer” and co-author of the blog, “3 Geeks and a Law Blog”. With a very impressive repertoire, it was interesting to hear Lambert’s take on several issues regarding his blog, social media, and how these outlets are becoming increasingly influential in the legal practice. In short, I am essentially writing a blog on a blog. However, one of the most valuable things that I took away from the session is “building a community”.

Legal blogs and social media presence are exponentially growing in the community today. Lambert explained that it is important to build the legal community through these platforms, and to use them wisely. He made a good point about certain popular blogs that have several followers, but constantly convey negative messages that spread like wildfire; this ultimately contributes to an overall negative outlook on the legal profession. I thought this was interesting because I automatically connected with Lambert’s view and found myself thinking of ways to build the legal community rather than tear it down. Not all social media posts and blogs are going to be positive, but being respectful and thoughtful, and making sure to share messages and ideas that give the legal community a more trustworthy and positive outlook, makes more sense to me than constantly highlighting the negatives. Lambert emphasized that sharing negative stories through these platforms often results in several followers; however, there is still a respectful way to go about sharing the negatives that leaves the community with a sense that these issues will be improved upon.

Think of it like receiving positive feedback for whatever job you currently have; isn’t it more constructive to receive critical feedback on a job in a way that can help you improve rather than receiving feedback solely on what you’re doing wrong? This same principle applies to the use of blogs and social media in the legal profession; refrain from simply bashing other lawyers or ranting about problems with the profession as a whole. Instead, use online platforms in a way that benefits the legal community, such as posting a comment on an issue and proposing a way that it can be resolved. Lambert emphasized this point, and we should all consider his advice by building the legal community through online platforms in a respectful and positive way.

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South Carolina Supreme Court Opinion Summaries for October

125px-SCSupreme_CourtSealIn October, the South Carolina Supreme Court published three opinions of a disciplinary matter:

First, in the Matter of Lisabeth Rogers, the court issued a public reprimand for violating Rules 1.7 (lawyer shall not represent client if representation involves concurrent conflict of interest; concurrent conflict of interest exists if there is significant risk that representation of client will be materially limited by lawyer’s personal interest) and 8.4 (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or do so through the acts of another; it is professional misconduct for lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation ) of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct. Employed by Oconee Medical Center as General Counsel, Rogers acted as guardian to a patient who was without family. Subsequently, Rogers allowed her own son to reside in the patient’s home to act as a handyman, who instead vandalized the residence and sold the patients possessions, including an automobile.

Next, in the Matter of Darryl Smalls, the court imposed a definite suspension for a continued practice of failing to pay for court reporting services, in a timely manner, violating Rules 4.4 (in representing a client, lawyer must have respect for rights of third persons) and 8.4(e) (it is professional misconduct to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice) under the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

Dating back to 2009, Smalls received multiple transcripts from several agencies and avoided paying each balance until the Office of Disciplinary Counsel was notified. In 2014, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct accepted an agreement by consent that Smalls would complete conditions of disciplinary actions, including; completing the Legal Ethics and Practice Program (LEAPP) Ethics School and Law Office Management School by October 29, 2015, and maintaining $1,000 in his operating account to cover costs incurred on behalf of clients, including court reporting invoices.

The court accepts the Agreement for Discipline by Consent and imposes on [Smalls] a definite retroactive suspension from the practice of law for eighteen (18) months, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. As well as reestablishing prior disciplinary actions be completed within 120 days of the order.

Finally, in the Matter of Alvin Lundgren, the court permanently debarred Lundgren in the state of South Carolina after abusing pro hac vice privileges multiple times, as well as for violating the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.

Lundgren, who resides in Utah, sought to represent his wife in a defamation action brought by her ex-husband, by applying for pro hac vice admission in South Carolina (2009) but continued the case without local counsel, as required by  Rule 404(f), SCACR. In 2012, Lundgren submitted another application for pro hac vice to represent his wife in further divorce actions but failed to file the application or a motion to appear pro hac vice in the family court before appearance. Lastly, in 2014, Lundgren improperly issued subpoenas and discovery request—without proper admission—in violation of South Carolina Family Court Rules, the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, and under Rule 407 of SCACR.

The South Carolina Supreme Court decided, although he is not licensed to practice law in South Carolina, Lundgren’s misconduct is enough to prohibit him from seeking any form of admission to practice law, advertise, or solicit legal services in the state.

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The South Carolina Supreme Court published four additional opinions:

In Mangal v. State, Mangal applied for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) —without the help of counsel— claiming ineffective counsel, to which the PCR court denied relief with no mention of improper bolstering. The court of appeals found the PRC court erred in not ruling on improper bolstering and that counsel was ineffective for not objecting to it.

The State filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which was granted. The Supreme Court holds the PCR court acted within its discretion in refusing to address the issue of bolstering. Mangal’s application made no mention of the claim, and his counsel (obtained before the hearing) did not indicate any claim beyond ineffective counsel. When reviewing the act, here, the court found the testimony of the expert witness did not support a claim of bolstering because her testimony was based in part on physical findings. In short, the court reversed the court of appeal’s find and reinstated the PCR court’s order denying PCR.

In State v. Wyatt, the court grants Wyatt’s petition for a writ of certiorari, after he argues the trial court erred in not suppressing two eyewitness identifications. Courts apply a two-prong test to determine whether due process requires suppression. The first prong requires determining whether the identification resulted from unnecessary suggestive police identification. The trial court only applied the second prong, which the current court determined was incorrect in application. If the police procedures were not suggestive, or necessary under the circumstances, the inquiry ends on the first prong.

Here, Wyatt’s description was primarily by his clothing and general features, such as being male and apprehended within 15 minutes close to the scene of the crime. The police cannot limit themselves to in-house lineups when there is an opportunity for an on-scene identification. These identifications allow for police to determine if further investigation is necessary quickly, and to free innocent suspects. The court ultimately finds this line-up necessary under the circumstance and affirms the trial court decision.

Justice Hearn concurred in a separate opinion.

Briggs v. State involved the review of a Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) action, where Briggs claims that his counsel was ineffective and permitted a forensic interviewer to give opinion testimony. At trial, the State’s witness, Arroyo-Staggs, a forensic interviewer, testified as an expert witness. The Supreme Court found two issues; first, Singleton, Briggs’s defense attorney failed to object to the improper bolstering of Arroyo-Staggs testimony on direct examination. The court used numerous past opinions to show that bolstering is improper.  Here, Arroyo-Staggs testified that her “role” was to determine whether the child knows the difference between a truth and a lie and that her purpose was to “find out if something happened”, indirectly conveying to the jury that she believed the victim. The court found this improper because the jury must determine the victim’s credibility. Additionally, the standard that which an attorney objects to bolstering was not developed until after the trial, and therefore Singleton’s failure to object cannot be improper.

Next, the court looks at Brigg’s claim that, Singleton elicited improper bolstering testimony from Arroyo-Staggs on cross-examination. Singleton’s defense strategy was to prove that no-one believed the victim; including her mother, grandmother, and father. Instead, Singleton showed the jury that an “expert” believed the child by asking directly “how can you as an expert determine she’s telling the truth?” The court found this improper.

Finally, the court determined that without Arroyo-Staggs testimony, there was a reasonable probability that the results would have been different. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the PRC court’s finding and remands to the court of general sessions for a new trial.

In State v. King, the Court granted the parties’ cross-petitions for a writ of certiorari after reviewing the Court of Appeals rulings. The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ finding that at trial, the judge errored when charging the jury that “a specific intent to kill is not an element of attempted murder but it must be a general intent to commit serious bodily harm”. The Court reasoned that the General Assembly’s repeal of the common law crime of assault and battery with intent to kill (“ABWIK”) and purposeful creation of attempted murder, included the element “specific intent to kill”.

The Court also affirmed the Court of Appeals’ finding that the admitting hearsay testimony, by an investigating officer, was in error. It held that the investigating officer’s testimony was hearsay because it was exclusively based on what the witness told the officer, which offered to prove that defendant fired more than one shot.

Next, the Court found that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s admission of a 15-minute phone call made by the defendant while incarcerated. During trial, the judge didn’t listen to the recording before allowing disclosure to the jury. The Court found that no weight was given to the recording as to its probative value versus any unfair prejudice because during trial.  Although the Court found that admission of the call was in error, it also found that the error did not warrant reversals and constituted “harmless error”.

Justice Kittredge concurred in a separate opinion.

 

* Summaries created with the assistance of Melanie Rumfelt, Library Research Assistant.

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Join Us in the Barrister at Noon on Halloween

Please join the library and IT staff at noon on Tuesday, October 31st, in the Barrister for cake and candy corn.  Costumes are optional.

At that time, we will have a drawing for Study Room 123.  The drawing will provide access to the winner for the use of Study Room 123 from December 1st – December 16th during the exam period.

Please plan to join us.

 

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Articles Worth Reading

articles worth reading

For your information needs and reading pleasure, check out the following articles:

  1.  5 Daily Habits of Rainmakers & How They Can Work for You;
  2. Five Ways to Manage Difficult Transitions;
  3. How the Recession Shaped Law Firm Billing;
  4. Law Firms Must Transition to an Industry Sector Approach;
  5. “PwC Did Not Do Its Job” and Missed $2B Fraud, Judge Told;
  6. Supreme Court to Decide Whether Prosecutors Can Obtain Microsoft Emails Stored on Overseas Server;
  7. Susskind on The Future for Law Firms and Leverage;
  8. The Inside Counsel Revolution;
  9. There Are Three Types of Teams That Will Derail Productivity; and
  10. What I Learned in My 1st Year:  Listen Carefully, Speak Up.

Happy reading!

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Check Out Law 360’s Article on President Bell’s Recent $10M Verdict

ed-bell

Check out this article, Jury Awards $10M in Undisclosed Cancer Suit, at Law 360.  It reviews President Bell’s recent $10M jury verdict.  According to the article,

“[a] South Carolina jury on Tuesday awarded $10 million to the family of a woman who allegedly died after doctors detected kidney cancer on her scans but failed to treat the cancer or tell her that she had cancer for years.

The family of Joann Shull Bannister prevailed on a wrongful death claim against Columbia Urological Associates, related entity Columbia Medical Associates and one of Bannister’s doctors, Phillip W. Kinder.

“The jury agreed that no one should have to go through what this lady and her family went through,” J. Edward Bell III of Bell Legal Group, attorney for Bannister, said in a statement, noting that kidney cancer is typically considered very treatable.”

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Library Hours Over Fall Break

During the school’s Fall Break, the library will be open its usual operating hours.

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