Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court
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Respondent Municipal Court Judge Sheryl Polk McKinney's sister, who was the Clerk of the Town of Varnville, was arrested and charged with embezzlement of public funds, forgery, and misconduct in office.  Respondent's sister was accused of issuing checks in Respondent's name, forging respondent's name to the checks and converting the money for her personal use over an eight year period. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that by her misconduct, Respondent violated multiple Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct (Rule 501, SCACR). The Court found Respondent’s misconduct warranted a suspension from judicial duties.  Respondent was suspended for thirty days. 

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Appellant Bon Secours-St. Francis Xavier Hospital (the Hospital) was a defendant at trial in the underlying civil case.  On the morning of the trial, Appellants removed the case to federal court for the second time on the same grounds as the initial removal.  The federal district court judge again remanded the case to state court.  The state trial judge, imposed severe sanctions against the Appellants for the delay created by the second removal.  Appellants argued on appeal to the Supreme Court that they should not have been sanctioned for the second removal because it was done in good faith. The Supreme Court agreed with both [the trial judge's] version of the facts and his conclusion that the second removal was not based on good grounds and was interposed solely for delay: "[w]hile Rule 11 is evaluated by a subjective standard, the rule still may be violated with a filing that is so patently without merit that no reasonable attorney could have a good faith belief in its propriety.  We find such is the case here." The Court affirmed the lower court's imposition of sanctions.