Lawyers Fight for America's Founding Principles

 GUEST POST by J. Calhoun Watson of Sowell Gray 

The Fourth of July is a good time to remember our nation’s dedication to the rule of law and to celebrate this principle that sets us apart from many other countries.

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, the Declaration of Independence charged the king of England with depriving the colonists of their right to a trial by jury. Because America’s founders believed serving on a jury and testifying in court were essential responsibilities of being a citizen, they were willing to wage war to stand up for this right.

Throughout history, lawyers have fought to uphold the rule of law in our nation’s most defining moments: drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, crafting the Emancipation Proclamation and ending the Civil War, creating the New Deal to pull America out of the Great Depression and supporting the Civil Rights movement.

Still today, the rule of law is essential to our freedoms. The rule of law describes a system based on fair, publicized, easily understood and stable laws enforced by knowledgeable judges. Although Americans often take these rights and privileges for granted, we must always remember that our liberties, rights and way of life would be in great jeopardy without the rule of law. In many parts of the world, these rights are just a dream.

There always will be people who do not agree with a judge’s ruling and who criticize the lawyers who defend the accused. The fact is that under the American judicial system, anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty: It is the defense attorney’s job to ensure his or her client has a fair trial, the prosecutor’s responsibility to present evidence to the court on behalf of the state, and the judge’s responsibility to rule based on the facts presented. This system is the very cornerstone of our founders’ vision. As Americans, we should share the same passion and commitment today as our founders 238 years ago.

In some cases, the system our founders envisioned is not fully accessible. I am very proud that S.C. lawyers are dedicated to advancing justice and ensuring that the civil legal system is available to all our citizens. Many lawyers choose this profession because they believe in the American legal system and want to make a difference in the lives of those they represent. It is important that we stand up for everyone’s access to the privileges of our system.

Thanks to many lawyers serving as volunteers, the S.C. Bar offers programs to provide legal representation and advice to those who cannot easily access or afford it. We sponsor free legal clinics and Ask-A-Lawyer phone banks and web chats. We also help provide wills to first-response personnel and Habitat for Humanity homeowners; educate at-risk high school students on criminal law and the consequences of their choices; educate the public about adoption and foster care; and teach students about civic responsibility. For information, please visit scbar.org or call (803) 799-6653.

As we spend time this weekend with family and friends and give thanks for this beautiful nation, let us honor one of the defining principles of this nation’s founding — celebrating our legal rights, access to a fair and balanced justice system and the commitment of this state and nation to upholding the rule of law for all citizens.

Printed July 3, 2014 in "The State" as:

Watson: Lawyers fight for America’s founding principles

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cal, a native of Bamberg, South Carolina, is a graduate of Wofford College and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is also President of the South Carolina Bar and the former President of Historic Columbia.

E cwatson@sowellgray.com
P (803) 231-7839
F (803) 231-7889
 
Admissions
South Carolina Bar
U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Education
Wofford College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1984
- Phi Beta Kappa
- President of the Student Body
University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1987
- Order of the Coif
- Order of Wig and Robe
- Student Works Editor of the South Carolina Law Review
- Legal Writing Instructor, 1986-1987
Associations
International Association of Defense Counsel (Technology Chair, 2010-2012), Business Litigation, Professional Liability, and Trial Tactics Committees and Social Media Task Force (Chair)
Richland County Bar Association
American Bar Association
John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court (President, 2010-2011)
South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association
Defense Research Institute
Certified South Carolina Circuit Court Mediator
Judicial Clerkships
Honorable Robert F. Chapman, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Offices
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
President, South Carolina Bar (2014-2015), President-Elect (2013-2014), Treasurer (2012-2013), Secretary (2011-2012)
President, John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court (2010-2011)
South Carolina Bar Board of Governors (1997-2000, 2009-present)
South Carolina Bar House of Delegates (1997-present)
Access to Justice Commission (2006-present)
President, South Carolina Bar Foundation (2006-2007)
Editorial Board of South Carolina Lawyer Magazine (2000-2007)
President, Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar (1997-1998)
Honors & Awards
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2008-2014), Commercial Litigation
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2008-2014), Professional Malpractice Law, Defendants
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2010-2014),  Bet-the-Company Litigation
South Carolina “Super Lawyer” Business Litigation (2008-2014)
South Carolina “Super Lawyer” Professional Liability Defense (2010-2012)
Chambers U.S.A. America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2009-2014)
Selected as a Top Rated Lawyer in Commercial Litigation by Litigation Special Report (2012)
Recipient, Innovative Leadership Award, Historic Columbia (2010)
Recipient, Compleat Lawyer Award Silver Medallion, USC Law School Alumni Association (2001)
Community Involvement
President, Historic Columbia Foundation (2007-2009)
President, Wofford College National Alumni Association (2000)
Wofford College Parents Advisory Council (2012-2013)
AC Flora PTSO (Co-President, 2011-2012)

 

 

 


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South Carolina Roadways Considered 'Poor and Failing'

The Greenville News recently reported on the conditions of South Carolina roadways and aptly determined those deteriorating and substandard conditions present  "excessive safety problems."  The reported 41,000 miles of roadways covered by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) were recently graded an "F" by their own highway engineers.

It would appear given the media coverage and the SCDOT's own admissions of the substandard conditions of the roadways the problems are no hidden secret. However, from a legal perspective, anyone using those roadways and injured as a result of their deteriorating conditions must first look over the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, S.C. Code Ann. 15-78-10, before proceeding.

Confusing? Wait, it gets better. Please read SCDOT's Mission taken straight from their website:

Pursuant to SC Code Section 57-3-10, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is charged with the responsibility of the systematic planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the state highway system and coordinating mass transit services. SCDOT operates and maintains 41,459 miles of roads and bridges, which ranks as the fourth largest state-owned highway system in the nation according to the Federal Highway Administration. The agency emphasizes the importance of safety, environmental stewardship, and system maintenance and preservation through its “Fix It First” strategy. (emphasis added).

The SCDOT provides a brief "Snapshot" of their organization:

• 4th largest state-maintained highway system in the Nation
• 41,459 miles, including 8,344 bridges
• 4,985 permanent employees
• $1.05 billion budget from state & federal sources

The best thing you can do for you and your fellow travelers on South Carolina roadways is to be vigilant about any roadway, shoulder, ditch, bridge, and secondary road issues you notice by mailing a certified letter , or traceable mailer, to the SCDOT. That helps in two ways:

  1. It provides the SCDOT with volunteer assistance without raising taxes; & 
  2. It puts them on notice of dangerous conditions in that area that need to be remedied.

I would be happy to compile those notices if you want to email them or post them as a comment on this article.

Plus in the interest of objectivity in my "reporting", that notice also helps others if they are injured by that same problem clear the hurdles in navigating justice through the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

State Farm Insurance Gave $2.4 Million to Illinois Supreme Court Judge Campaign, Then Lied About It

Allegations are rampant that State Farm Insurance Company contributed upwards of $2,400,000.00 to an Illinois Supreme Court Justice's campaign for election.  This happened back in 2004 during one of the most expensive judicial races. Why is this really important, you may be wondering? Ever heard of John Grisham's book, "The Appeal"? It was a fictional book, right?

Well funny you ask, you see that same Supreme Court Justice failed to withdraw from participating, or recuse himself, in a billion (that's more than a million) dollar case that was eventually overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court. Or determined that State Farm did not have to pay what a lower court and/or jury had determined they were liable, or responsible, in owing.

Since the Supreme Court justice did not recuse himself, the court did try and determine if there was any bias and it was thought that only $350,000.00 was contributed to the justice's judicial campaign. It was thought this because that is what State Farm Insurance told the Court.

Apparently, that was not true. An FBI investigation found that number to be somewhere between $2,4000,000.00 and $4,000,000.00. Some people have some explaining to do.

I wonder if this could ever happen in little ol South Carolina? You think corporate insurance companies that make billions of dollars in net profits would ever turn their focus on our state? Why do those presidential nominees come from outside their home state to announce they are running in South Carolina?

It's those things that make you go hmmmmmm........

Of course they (insurance companies) are hoping you don't even give it a thought. Look at that shiny thing over there. You already forgot about this story didnt you?

RELATED ARTICLES:

 Illinois court asked to review alleged bias by justice

State Farm Secretly Gave $2.4 Million to Ill. Judge in $1B Case

 

Petition Claims State Farm Secretly Raised Millions for Ill. Justice Who Voted Its Way in $1B Case