Anyone who has been exposed to the South Carolina Family Court system, knows that they have entered a twilight zone.
You can find thousands and thousands off comments from individuals asking how a court such as this can ignore the basics of the law.
We chose to start looking into the practices of the family court to see what was going on.
Several people informed us of a common practice of issuing bench warrants on them, without them ever having been served notice of any hearings. And now they are practicing what is called “pre-sentencing, which means these individuals are being taken to jail without ever having their right to be heard.
RULE TO SHOW CAUSE
(e) Service. The rule to show cause shall be served with the supporting affidavit or verified petition by personal delivery of a duly filed copy thereof to the responding party by the Sheriff, his deputy or by any other person not less than eighteen (18) years of age, not an attorney in or a party to the action.
The manner of service provided by Rule 14, SCRFC, is consistent with standard practice in all courts as provided by Rules 4(c) and 4(d), SCRCP, with the exception that the rule to show cause and supporting affidavit or verified petition are to be served by personal delivery upon the responding party.
Personal service as specified within Rule 14(e) ensures due process by facilitating reliable service directly upon the responding party.
This is just one of the many Court Rules and Laws that are not followed in many Family Courts.
We have heard over and over from people not being personally served for these hearings and having Bench Warrants issued for them. Normally, the local Sheriff’s Department is responsible for serving these notices, but sometimes it can be a private individuals. But the Law is the same! One must be personally served with the summons. Which means you have to be handed the actual papers in your hand!
This is what is suppose to happen, but in reality many Family Court Clerks and Judges do not know the rules or laws pertaining to this issue. Judges still issue bench warrants on people who have not been served and as mentioned above pre-sentence these individuals to lengthy jail time, without applying their Civil Rights.
Having spoken with several Clerks and Judges and even Attorneys all have said the same thing, “It comes down to training and knowledge,”. Now, a person can not expect a Judge to know all the rules of the court, after all their just human. But we are talking about the basics of the law, that can be expected with some reasoning.
Many legal professionals have stated that there is a much needed change in the Court system when it comes to these matters. Some Legal Professionals have even stated off the record that the “Buddy System” in our Court rooms between lawyers and Judges has gone too far. It’s become a question of how good you are with the Judge socially, instead of how good you know the law.”
In our investigation certain Counties, Lawyers and Judges have come up multiple times. In these Counties certain Judges seem to favor certain lawyers repeatedly, with more than average wins for these attorneys/friends.
One Legislator even stated, “There should be a disconnect between lawyers and judges as to prevent these biases. Our Judges should be elected on merit not on friendships, as they are now. Or like most states should be publicly elected instead of by a panel of lawyers.”
This last statement refers to the fact that South Carolina Judges are placed on the bench by the Judicial Merit Selection Committee, which as one guesses is comprised of mostly lawyers who will be in front of these Judges arguing cases. (Job security must be nice.) The head of this committee is Senator Luke Rankin, who has come under accusations of favoritism in this position, and is also a practicing attorney.
We as United States Citizens believe that we live under certain laws that protect our rights.
But who guarantees that the Courts are following these laws?