State House

South Carolina Judicial Drama: Illegal Delegation Meeting Ousts Veteran Judge

Senator: “(This) shit show was just another reminder – and definitely one more GOOD reason for us to stop letting lawyer-legislators continue to cherry-pick judges they like and can control.”

A veteran Midlands, South Carolina judge who appears to have been targeted for vengeance by a powerful state senator was formally removed from office this week. But the meeting which booted him from office was held illegally – and would have likely been declared an illegal meeting had it not been for the alleged cowardice of a newly installed circuit court judge.

We reported last week on the saga of Richland County master-in-equity Joseph M. Strickland, who has held this post since 1989 and was scheduled to continue serving until the end of his most recent six-year term in April of 2027. Strickland has been targeted for ouster by S.C. senator John Scott Jr. and his allies on the county legislative delegation – a group of sixteen mostly Democratic lawmakers who choose who gets to serve in this position.

Earlier this year, state representative Leon Howard – chairman of the Richland delegation and one of Scott’s allies – unilaterally removed the judge without a vote of the delegation. And, in fact, without notification to multiple delegation members. According to a legal motion (.pdf) filed by Strickland, Scott’s animus toward the veteran judge was fueled by the fact his son – John Scott III – was forced to resign from a position he held in Strickland’s office due to several instances of alleged theft.

“Law enforcement discovered that the son had stolen property throughout the Richland County courthouse,” the motion alleged. “When judge Strickland learned of this pattern from the Richland County sheriff’s department, the son was allowed to resign in lieu of termination.”

As I noted in our original treatment of this saga, this raises a ton of red flags.

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“If deputies discovered theft from the taxpayers – Scott’s son should have been arrested on the spot,” I wrote at the time. “And Strickland should have fired his ass on the spot.

As of this writing, though, no charges have been filed against the senator’s son.

With Strickland challenging Howard’s legal authority to remove him unilaterally – without a vote of the delegation – the chairman called an “emergency” meeting of Richland County lawmakers on Wednesday (August 2, 2023) to deal with the matter officially.

The result of that “emergency” meeting? Strickland was voted out …

There’s a problem, though. According to multiple delegation members, Howard failed to provide written, twenty-four hour notice of this meeting as required by state law. That would make the gathering in violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws – specifically S.C. Code § 30-4-80.

“An agenda for regularly scheduled or special meetings must be posted on a bulletin board in a publicly accessible place at the office or meeting place of the public body and on a public website maintained by the body, if any, at least twenty-four hours prior to such meetings,” the code noted. “All public bodies must post on such bulletin board or website, if any, public notice for any called, special, or rescheduled meetings. Such notice must include the agenda, date, time, and place of the meeting, and must be posted as early as is practicable but not later than twenty-four hours before the meeting.”

While the law allows an exemption for true “emergency” meetings, public bodies have typically only cited that loophole during natural disasters.

Is a state senator’s bid to remove a judge who caught his son allegedly stealing from taxpayers really an “emergency?”

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RELATED | CHANGING HOW SOUTH CAROLINA PICKS JUDGES

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A hearing to determine the legality of the “emergency” delegation meeting – and to potentially block it from being held – was sought on Wednesday morning by Strickland’s attorneys in front of newly elected S.C. circuit court judge Daniel M. Coble. Unfortunately, Coble – whose candidacy for the bench was endorsed by the same lawmakers seeking Strickland’s ouster – refused to hear the motion.

According to our sources, Coble “hid in his office” until the delegation meeting had begun – thus making moot the question Strickland’s lawyers sought to address.

“Total bitch move,” one assistant prosecutor following the drama told us. “Another judge doing the bidding of the legislature as opposed to doing his job.”

So to recap: A clique of corrupt lawmakers holding a grudge against a judge has now illegally removed him from office – twice. Meanwhile, another judge – one who is in their pocket – had a chance to stop them from breaking the law and refused.

And this is the system of “justice” lawmakers continue to defend?

As I noted in our previous coverage of this story, this “unspooling debacle is yet another example of why Palmetto State lawmakers should not be within a country mile of the judicial selection process.”

“Certainly, they should have zero authority over the process beyond the standard advice-and-consent incorporated in the federal model of judicial selection,” I noted.

But just as this news outlet is not the only voice for judicial reform anymore, I am not the only one demanding judicial selection reform in the aftermath of the dust-up.

(Click to view)

Dick Harpootlian (Travis Bell Photography/ Statehouse Carolina)

Powerful state senator Dick Harpootlian – a member of the Richland delegation – submitted a letter (.pdf) yesterday afternoon in the aftermath of the fiasco to S.C. Senate judiciary chairman Luke Rankin. In that letter, Harpootlian called on Rankin to hold hearings into reforming the state’s notoriously corrupt S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission – the panel which screens judges prior to their election within the S.C. General Assembly.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that we need to pass legislation to reform the current process of selecting judges in the state of South Carolina,” Harpootlian wrote. “Currently, there are five bills pending in the Senate judiciary committee concerning the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. I believe we need a subcommittee to review these bills and refer proposed legislation to the full committee.”

Harpootlian also got into a shouting match with S.C. House minority leader Todd Rutherford, an architect and staunch defender of the current, corrupt system of judicial selection … as well as one of its prime beneficiaries.

Take a look …

Harpootlian wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm about the rampant corruption of the current system. S.C. senator Mia McLeod – an independent from Richland County – blasted the delegation for its part in the judicial selection debacle.

“(This) shit show was just another reminder – and definitely one more GOOD reason for us to stop letting lawyer-legislators continue to cherry-pick judges they like and can control,” McLeod told me.

McLeod – one of five female senators who has long been lauded as possessing more testicular fortitude than any man in the chamber – also criticized governor Henry McMaster for going along with the delegation on its extra-legal judicial appointments.

“This is – and always has been – the way the delegation conducts business,” McLeod added. “Sadly, he gives in to their shenanigans.”

How to unravel this disaster?

First, as I noted previously the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the office of attorney general Alan Wilson need to review the allegations against senator Scott’s son.

Second, Richland County lawmakers need to try holding legal meetings for a change.

Third, and most importantly, South Carolina’s increasingly corrupt method of judicial screening and selection must be eliminated immediately and replaced with a process the public can trust. Clearly, trusting the legislature to do the job isn’t working.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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11 comments

Avatar photo
VERITAS Top fan August 3, 2023 at 10:25 am

Agree 100% with the views expressed in this article. As an outsider, the corruption, bias, favoritism and self-interest in the appointment and removal of South Carolina judges, its judicial system as a whole, and even some law enforcement has become glaringly apparent.

Reply
Gunter7 August 3, 2023 at 2:56 pm

They are asking for their own skeleton filled closet doors to be forced open. All of this reminds me of a different sitting state judge. Her husband is a well-known once very powerful lawyer who himself has been a part of many alleged illegal things over the years – some are known to be felonies. He is on record. The evidence against him and several others is damming, to say the least.

You don’t engage in illegal behavior and carry out illegal acts like these people and expect in these times to escape exposure and punishment. Those days are over.

I, for one, am very grateful for FitNews being undaunted in their reporting of SC’s own cesspool of white-collar crimes. The entire Judicial System must be totally cleaned out of these power freaks. Many of them belong in prison!

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 4, 2023 at 1:06 pm

All right FITS, a deal in the open: the clicks I bring you because I am such a DARN INTERSTING independent thinker are worth the risk you take in letting me post WITHOUT SUBSCRIBING. No one else has the insights I write. Probably, too, even in sheer money value (I have NO IDEA how much a subscription costs because I never even considered buying one) those increased clicks increase the value of ads on your blog and channels more than the price of a subscription.
On my side, the time and effort I spend on your blog is so far worth it for me. Despite your OTHER loathsome qualities and often loathsome conduct and irresponsible demagoguery, you have three great biggies: (1) pro-unborn-life (I can’t call you really pro-life unless you oppose the death penalty); (2) not a hawk (I wish you were a pacifist; but I take what I can get in opposition to the war mongers); and (3) a father to seven.
So, I can morally justify to myself posting on your blog and channels in the hope of evolving you to a better person and journalist in other areas.
But I hope to get something for myself, too, by getting what I have to say to the attention of some who refuse to speak to me because they lack the courage to do so and some others whom I do not even know exist.
But the next one is going to be the most daring and dangerous of all my posts, and probably the most click-generating too.
Hopefully no one shoots me or arrests me before I post it.
Ready for it?

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 5, 2023 at 4:10 am

This is not yet the earthquake comment I promised and which, God willing and FITS permitting, should come soon; but because I don’t know what Google is doing with my comments on your videos, I thought I would post it again here because it is related ot courthouse management. Here it is:
Ms. Becky’s (“MB”) book should be part of the record on appeal for Alex Murdaugh (“AM”).
I have no time to read that book or money to waste on it; but it already shows everyone, including the clerk was set against AM before one word of testimony was spoken.
How could MB possibly know what the jurors were thinking unless they were already discussing the verdict before they allowed to actually deliberate on it and MB and/or her employees overheard them?
That feeds into YOUR insistence, FITS, that the egg juror was going to hang the jury?
How could YOU possibly have known that?
You could not have known anything about what her effect on the situation would have been had she stayed on the jury unless you knew how the other jurors were coming down before they even started deliberating. And how could YOU have known that unless the other jurors were also discussing the case but only the pro-acquittal juror got dismissed?
Another thing that smells EXTREMELY FISHY to me is that the egg juror’s lawyer, McCullough, is the same lawyer for the plaintiffs who did NOT settle in the boat crash case.
What’s with that?
For the nth time, a lawyer’s involvement in criminal proceedings to gain unfair advantage is civil litigation is unethical. But there was plenty of that in AM’s two-murder trial.
Even John Meadors got to take Bubba the dog home from Blanca without forfeiture process against AM or anything.
Is this a really country of laws or a country of lootings
Merde alors!
By that I mean I hope that at least John Meadors should himself be scooping Bubba’s poop and not getting some inmate to do that work for him.
Merde encore!

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 6, 2023 at 3:47 am

The earthquake is coming in a series of small ones.
But first, in YOUR fight for transparency, FITS, why are documents filed with the South Carolina Supreme Court (“SC S Ct”) NOT available for public viewing?
If a lawyer files something with SC S Ct, (s)he has to smuggle it to FITSNews for the public to see it.
Why is that?
Because the Rasputin (Daniel E. Shearouse) of SC S Ct said so.
Why should it continue?
Because the coming Kaisar (John Williamson Kittredge) of SC S Ct wants it so.
Whom does this benefit? Rasputin and Kaisar.
Those who dream of a Kittredge chief-justiceship after a Beatty chief-justiceship as if it were a Trump presidency after the Obama presidency are as self-deluded as the 6 January 2021 Congress-stormers.
If you really are for transparency, FITS, then get your Pete Strom to petition SC S Ct to change its inexplicable practice of not putting matters in SC S Ct’s “original jurisdiction” on C-Track.
You know that I do not write without OBJECTIVE support. But I do not know if and how to upload a PDF file (a complete transcript) to a comment.
So, God willing and FITS permitting, the next comments from shall be the most relevant excerpts from that transcript of the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm 22 March 2022 event at SC S Ct showing many things among which how Kaisar protects Rasputin and possibly why.

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 6, 2023 at 5:03 am

First, here is the part of the transcript that shows Rasputin’s POSSIBLE financial misdeeds and how Kaisar jumped in to protect Rasputin.
Please note that I was later CREDIBLY threatened with contempt of court if I even attempted to FIOA Rasputin’s payments.
[Page 37, lines 1-2] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Proceed with your examination of the witness.
[3-7] DR. FALTAS: Yes, sir, I am about to proceed. And without your getting impatient with me, if I have another cough of paroxysm is it okay that I raise my hand and step out? This is out of my control, totally out of my control.
[8-11] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Let’s see when that happens. We’re going to work with you and we’re going to accommodate you. But this is the cross-examination of this witness.
[12-15] DR. FALTAS: I know, I know. But please remember I did not bring this proceeding against myself, you all brought it against me. And so I mean you’re not the ones being put on, I am.
[16] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Your witness, ma’am.
[17] DR. FALTAS: Thank you, sir.
[18] MR. SHEAROUSE – CROSS-EXAMINATION BY DR. FALTAS:
[19-24] Q: Sir, I’m sorry, I need to go in the order in which you testified, not necessarily in the order of importance. But bear with me because if I don’t go in the order in which you testified I will lose my train of thought. You said that you get paid on an hourly basis with the permission of Chief Justice Beatty?
[25] A: That’s correct, yes.
[Page 38, line 1] Q: How much do you get paid per hour?
[2] A: I have no idea, I’ve not looked at it.
[3] Q: You don’t know how much you get paid?
[4-5] A: I really don’t care, I’m not doing this for the money.
[6-8] Q: Sir, the question is how much do you get paid, not why you’re doing it or whether you care. The question is how much do you get paid?
[9-10] A: I do not know the answer to that question off the top of my head.
[11-12] Q: Well I mean, okay, physically do you get a check or what?
[13-14] A: Yes, yes, I get a check twice a month depending on how many hours I work.
[15-16] Q: And does the check say how many hours you worked?
[17-18] A: Well is not really a check, it’s a deposit. So no, it doesn’t.
[19] Q: It doesn’t?
[20] A: No.
[21] Q: So who decides how many hours you work?
[22-24] A: The Chief Justice basically has left that up to me and our Clerk of Court, Patricia Howard, so we work together.
[25 to page 39, line 1] Q: So you get to say I worked a hundred hours or I worked two hours and no one checks on that?
[2-3] A: Patricia Howard certifies that I worked those hours, yes.
[4] Q: I’m sorry?
[5-7] A: The Clerk of Court certifies the hours I work, she approves my scheduled hours that I work, just like any other part-time employee.
[8-9] Q: Now I’m really confused. So what is the rate per hour?
[10-11] A: Again, Dr. Faltas, I do not know what that rate is, I have not computed it.
[12] Q: You were never told?
[13] MR. ZELENKA: Asked and answered.
[14-15] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Sustained. Move along. Asked and answered.
[16-17] Q: Is it proper for the public to inquire about public employee’s pay?
[18] A: I assume they could.
[19] Q: Okay. And how can they inquire?
[20-23] A: Well that would be something for personnel to decide. There are limits about what information can be obtained for people making less than $50,000 a year. I have no idea where I fall in that category at this point.
[24-25] Q: So you never made more than $50,000 a year in your employment with the State Supreme Court?
[Page 40, lines 1-2] MR. ZELENKA: Objection, Your Honor. Asked and answered.
[3-4] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Sustained. This is entirely inappropriate.
[5-7] DR. FALTAS: No, sir. It’s part of the email that’s used in evidence against me. I was inquiring what his title was.
[8-13] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: We know his title. We know he’s paid as a part-time employee by the Chief Justice. You’ve asked the same question repeatedly. And to some questions he does not know the answer, we have to leave it at that. And you need to move on to the next line of inquiry. I sustained the objection. Asked and answered.
[14-15] DR. FALTAS: May I independently make to the Court a FOIA request?
[16] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: You certainly may, ma’am.
[17-18] DR. FALTAS: Okay. So on the record I’m making that FOIA request.
[19-21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: No, ma’am. The record here is for the allegations and charges of contempt against you for violation of the September 2017 order. Only —
[22] DR. FALTAS: All right, let’s —
[23] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I’m speaking.
[24] DR. FALTAS: Sorry, sorry, sorry.
[25 to page 41, line 6] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Only evidence relevant to that will be allowed. We’re allowing you, of course, leeway because you think the underlying order is invalid. If you want to make a FOIA request or any other thing that you want to do, you can proceed as provided by law. But it will not be in the context of this limited contempt hearing.
[7-14] DR. FALTAS: Except that the 27 September order, if you give it an absurd reading, I would still be in contempt if I handed a FOIA, a written FOIA request to any employee of the judicial branch. So this has to do with the absurdity of the reading of the order. But let’s go to the order itself, or the two orders. These are the ones you’re talking about, right? Thank you. Okay.
[15-17] Q: So State’s No. 4 which was admitted over my objection, you were the Clerk of the Supreme Court at that time, were you not?
[18-19] A: I’m not so sure I know what State 4 is. What is State’s No. 4 that you’re referring to?
[20-21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I believe that is the September 20th, 2019 order if I’m not mistaken.
[22] MR. SHEAROUSE: The 2019 order. Okay, thank you.
[23] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I think that’s State’s No. 4.
[24] A: Yes. Yes, I’m familiar with that order.
[25to page 42, page 2] Q: Okay. If some member of the public entered that case number, 2019-000036, on C-track today or any time what will they get?
[3-8] A: They would receive nothing. I believe this is an original jurisdiction matter brought by the State. Insofar as a matter of policy, the Court has not elected to place those on the public version of C-track, so it’s not available. None of the original jurisdiction things are currently available.
[9-11] Q: In original jurisdiction does the Court judge the facts and the law? This Court when it takes original jurisdiction cases, does it judge the facts and the law?
[12-13] A: Yes, depending on if there are facts that need to be determined, yes.
[14-16] Q: Okay. And do the Rules of Civil Procedure apply when the Court takes a case in its original jurisdiction?
[17] A: No, I do not believe that they do apply.
[18] Q: So how does the Court determine facts?
[19] MR. ZELENKA: Object, Your Honor. Relevance.
[20] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Sustained. Next question.

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 6, 2023 at 5:22 am

Continuing with the lack of transparency “elected” by Rasputin and Kaizar:
[24 to page 77 line 9] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [24 to page 77 line 4] They have chosen certain charges on emails and dates, and they need to produce that. And I believe they have. This foray into other possible emails, we’ll consider it. And that’s something that you want to bring to our attention when you present your case. [5-9] He answered a question. You didn’t like it. So then you had a discourse with me. That must stop. If you don’t like the answer, you just make a note of it so you can present it when your time comes. But then you go to the next line of inquiry.
[10-16] DR. FALTAS: Sir, I very respectfully take exception because the answer suggests the existence of other facts which, you know, are inculpatory to me. But the State has refused to produce them, or you’re not letting me compel them. So I ask the Court to consider that there was no other email exists related to this subject of the violation of Section 18-1-120.
[17-20] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: The only things that are included in the contempt allegations are those specific contacts by email or telephone that are listed in the contempt complaint.
[21-23] DR. FALTAS: All right. Then I move to strike his testimony that there were other emails about this subject.
[24] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Granted.
[25] DR. FALTAS: Thank you.
[Page 78, lines 1-2] Q: If one were to look today, look for Appeals No. 2021-000047, 48 or 49 what will they see?
[3-5] A: Those cases are in C-track, they are pending before the Court, but they are not on the public case index.
[6] Q: Why?
[7-11] A: They’re not on the public index because I have concerns about whether they are properly filed under the court’s order of September the 27th of 2017. And therefore I, when I was the Clerk elected to mark it as non-public, and that’s the way they are at the moment.
[12] Q: What is your authority for that?
[13-17] A: When we came up with C-track we had the ability to mark things as being non-public, and that has been the prerogative of the Court to mark it so it will not appear on the public case index, and instead are waiting for the Court to determine whether the filings are appropriate.
[18-19] Q: And these were filed in January 2021, is that correct?
[20] A: That is correct.
[21-23] Q: And did you even send them to the Court in a timely fashion to determine whether they were or were not correctly filed?
[24-25] A: Dr. Faltas, I cannot testify about the internal workings of the Supreme Court, that is all privileged.
[Page 79, lines 1-3] Q: Is any member of the public entitled to get their papers processed in a timely and transparent manner?
[4-5] A: To have their papers processed in a timely manner? Yes. That’s the goal we strive for, yes.
[6-8] Q: I’m sorry, please. I’m sorry, I interrupted you because you were talking quickly. Can you repeat what you just said?
[9-10] A: Yes. I said as a goal we try to process things promptly, yes.
[11-12] Q: Okay. So these were filed in January 2021, early in January 2021, is that correct?
[13] A: Correct.
[14] Q: And we are now in March 2022, is that correct?
[15] A: Correct.
[16-18] Q: And they were accompanied, at the same time there were two civil appeals which were 2021-000045 and 46 which do appear on C-track, is that correct?
[19-21] A: Correct. And those two appeals, if memory serves me correctly, were dismissed because you failed to pay the filing fee.
[22-24] Q: Okay. So what’s the difference, why are the two civil cases on C-track but the criminal appeals not on C-track?
[25 to page 80, line 1] MR. ZELENKA: Object, Your Honor. Relevance, again. And asked and answered.
[2-6] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Sustained. You’ve gone down this road on something that’s not relevant to the contempt charges before the Court today. It’s been asked and answered, so you got it out anyway. The objection is sustained. Move to your next question please, ma’am.
[7] DR. FALTAS: Exception. And may I —
[8-9] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Yes, ma’am. Exception noted. Next question.
[10-15] Q: Okay. I need to ask this question for the record because if I don’t ask it, it will not appear for further appeals. Weren’t you, in fact, trying to annoy me by removing them from C-track so that I wouldn’t know what’s happening to them and I would have to ask questions?
[16-21] A: No. As I’ve already explained, I have concerns about whether they’re properly filed under the 2017 order. Also concerns about whether the notice of appeal was properly served since you did so by email. And those issues need to be resolved by the Court, and that’s why it was marked as non-public.
[22-23] Q: Okay. The notice of appeal was not served by email on these. Did you send me a deficiency letter?
[24] A: No, I do not remember.
[25] MR. ZELENKA: Objection, Your Honor. Relevance.
[Page 81, lines 1-4] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: You asked the question. You didn’t like the answer. I sustain the objection. You can’t just go back and forth, well I think it’s this, he thinks it’s that.
[5] DR. FALTAS: Okay.
[6-12] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: You asked a question. And like I told you repeatedly, I know you’re not going to agree with much of anything that comes out of the witness’s mouth. The fact you disagree is not an opportunity to engage in a banter back and forth. But you can ask direct questions. But please move along to the next issue.
[13] DR. FALTAS: Okay.
[14-15] Q: Are you aware of deficiency letters, what you call deficiency letters?
[16-17] A: Am I aware that we issue deficiency letters? Yes.
[18-19] Q: Okay. Did you issue a deficiency letter in those cases?
[20] A: I do not remember, I do not recall.
[21-22] DR. FALTAS: Again, under compulsory process may I ask the Court to make available those records to me?
[23 to page 82, line 3] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: That could be done separately because that issue has nothing to do with the contempt matter today. Apparently you have some other appeals pending that will at some point be addressed by the Court. But those — (cracking noise) — are you okay? What was that?
[4] DR. FALTAS: I don’t know, maybe static.
[5-8] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: It might have been. But in any event, that could be handled separately. It may be a request, it may be a written request, but it’s outside the confines of this proceeding.
[9-14] DR. FALTAS: Acting Chief Justice Kittredge, it has to do with the right of the public person to know and inquire about their case. If he doesn’t put it on C-track, doesn’t send a deficiency letter, and for 14 months I don’t know anything about what’s happening to them.
[15-21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I appreciate you saying that. And if you want to follow up with a proper way of communicating with the Court consistent with the 2017 order then that can be followed up on. That is not relevant to the issue today for these specific allegations of contempt by email and telephone contact with Court staff.
[22] DR. FALTAS: Exception.
[23-24] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Yes, ma’am. Noted. Next question.

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 6, 2023 at 5:59 am

Continuing with another relevant part of the transcript; but please note that, where it says “cracking noise” in the transcript in the previous comment, Dr. Faltas was almost LITERALLY electrecuted by the additional defective microphone they put in front of her to maximally amplify her soft voice. Also please note that despite Dr. Faltas’ characteristically soft voice, judges and police officers and others often lie and pretend she yelled and was “disruptive” etc. When she asks for voice recordings, they lie again and pretend there were none or were not kept or she is in NEW contempt for even asking for such audio recordings.
And please remember that Kaizar convened what he pretends is a busy court for 4 unprecedented hours to frame Dr. Faltas for contempt of court, not because she said anything wrong in those four alleged emails to Rasputin, but ONLY because she used emails instead of paper when the courthouses were physically closed to the public because of the Pandemic and there were STANDING ORDERS for everybody to file by email instead of paper.
Back to the transcript now:
[25 to page 89, line 3] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: We’re going to take a 10 minute break, and then I’ll reassess with my colleagues on what our next steps will be. But for now we’re taking a 10 minute break and we’ll be in recess.
[4] DR. FALTAS: Thank you, sir.
[5] (Hearing recessed at 12:18 p.m., March 22, 2022) [6] * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * [7] (Hearing reconvened at 12:37 p.m., March 22, 2022)
[8] MS. BRYANT: All rise.
[9-19] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Be seated, be seated. We are back on the record and I have several things to put on the record. One is Dr. Faltas questioned Mr. Shearouse about her communications with the Court dated September 29, 2017. The manner of communication was in violation of an order of the Court that’s referenced in Mr. Shearouse’ response. That response is in a letter dated April 5, 2018, and I instructed a representative from the Clerk’s Office to provide a copy of that letter to both sides. Has the State received a copy of that April 5th, 2018 letter?
[20-21] MR. ZELENKA: We did, we just received it, and I provided a copy to Dr. Faltas.
[22 to page 90, line 24] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [22 to page 90, line 3] All right, good, so both sides have it. The second thing I have discussed with my colleagues, a legal ruling and what is the Court’s procedure that will be followed going forward. In terms of the legal ruling, it is the unanimous and firm judgment of all members of the Court that the September 2017 order is a valid order of this Court. [4-10] Under the Constitution, the Ap-pellate Court Rules, and the inherent authority of this Court to supervise the administration of the court system of South Carolina and it provides more than ample basis for this Court to have acted and issued an order in September of 2017. The record will reflect the Court’s ruling and that, of course, Dr. Faltas takes exception to it. [11-17] Now on moving forward, Mr. Shearouse has testified to the particular allegations of contempt into which he was a participant, i.e., on the receiving end of email communications in violation of the 2017 order. My colleagues have stressed upon me that we have got, I have allowed the hearing to get so far afield from the relevant issue before the Court. [18-24] So going forward the Court is only going to permit questions relevant to the matter of contempt as testified to by Mr. Shearouse. No colloquy with the Court except in responding to an objection or otherwise. But we’re going to move forward and conclude the examination of the witness limited to evidence of the contempt allegations as testified to by Mr. Shearouse.
[25 to page 91, line 7] DR. FALTAS: Sir, may I ask — and of course I do not think it’s a valid order — but you have ruled among yourselves that it’s a judicial order or an administrative order, because you said that it’s in your supervisory power over the state courts. I still take issue with that. But even if it were so, there is a difference between an administrative order and a judicial order. An administrative —
[8] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Ma’am, the Court has ruled.
[9] DR. FALTAS: But — okay.
[10-21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [10-14] And the order prohibited you from communicating to the Court and court staff in a particular way. It’s alleged that you violated that. I have stated the Court’s ruling, I’m not going to state it again. And I’m not going to go back and forth. [15-21] Because right now what you’re doing is you’re taking time away from your examination of the witness to engage in this dialogue, which is not productive in our judgment. I have been told to move along and limit this to the relevant issue of contempt. And I accept that constructive criticism. And so that’s what I’m going to do.
[22 to page 92, line 5] DR. FALTAS: Sir, I have offered Mr. Zelenka not to plead guilty because I cannot in good conscience say that I’m guilty, not even to plead Alford because I cannot in good conscience say that the elements of true contempt are in the possession of the State. I had offered him to consent to the entry of a judgment of conviction with the staying of the sentencing until your ruling can be reviewed, either in federal court or by the US Supreme Court because — and this will save time.
[6-21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [6-15] Whatever order we issue you certainly can appeal. Let me just ask you a question that seems to be self-evident. There’s a court order that does not permit you to email court staff, telephone court staff, if you have an attorney you can do it in the normal way through your attorney. But when you’re pro se you have to do it through in person by bringing documents or US mail. That’s the order of this Court. It is of no great joy for us to be here, but we have an obligation to ensure that the court orders are enforced. [16-21] Is there anything, ma’am, that we can do that will get you to comply with that obligation that you do not email the courts of this state, the staff, and make telephone calls to the court and staff, and communicate as prescribed by this court’s order? Is there anything we can do to get you to comply?
[22 to page 93, line 15] DR. FALTAS: [22-25] Many things. First, put such cases as I have on the public record so I can tell what’s happening with them without my having to call anybody or ask anybody. [Page 93, lines 1-10] Second, rule on my cases and get me out of here. I’m a medical doctor and really a frustrated engineer. I don’t know where this legal talent came from, but I have it. But some of the staff have accused me of enjoying this. Not at all. Just put my things on the public record. Because a whole lot of those were where I was asking what’s happening. And when we stopped I mean genuinely, genuinely I think that the recent supersedes the older, and when you all did that order by filing by email it didn’t exclude me. [11-15] And in fact, so when you look at those emails and those phone calls they are really together 21 or 20 over a 22 month period, it’s one call per month. And it’s not as if the contempt I was saying hey, I’m calling to annoy you, or hey, I’m calling to violate the court order.
[16-19] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: All right, thank you. We’re trying to find some solution. But I can promise you that part of any solution will be you will comply with the orders of this Court.
[20] DR. FALTAS: Yes, sir. I will. And —
[21] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: No, ma’am.
[22] DR. FALTAS: Sorry.
[23 to page 94, line 10] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: We’re not going to respond to your request of what you perceive to be placing cases on the public record. Every case filed is part of the public record. It may not appear on a particular track, but it’s still available to the public, and those cases proceed in that way. There is no nefarious intent involved. There’s nothing to hide those documents, they’re are simply on different tracks. And those different tracks are available to the public. Now perhaps in some instances a person can go on the Internet and see some of those filings. But all of the filings through some effort, all minimal, can be obtained. So they are public records.
[11] DR. FALTAS: May I just say something?
[12] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Yes, but it has to be relevant.
[13] DR. FALTAS: Yes, sir.
[14-19] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: To something that this Court, the five of us can do, and be assured that you will not violate that order going forward. Because we could impose a sentence and then suspend it and let you walk out of here. But we need some assurance. Now you can respond.
[20 to page 96, line 6] DR. FALTAS: [20 to 95, line 6] Because, you know, in medicine we always think of solutions and creating ones. If you don’t want to put my cases on the record, because this says that I cannot even talk to people, you can set once a month, once every two months that I can come and look at my public cases to find out what happened in them and what didn’t happen in them. And I leave that to your discretion, what you think is reasonable. And I will not be in contempt for even speaking to people. You can set it any date, you can say on such and such a date you can come and look at all your cases and see if they’ve progressed. [7-15] Because sometimes there may be an order issued that gets — and that happened. I’m not saying, I mean please believe me, it’s not as if it didn’t happen — that was sent to the wrong address. Not because I had given a wrong address, but it was mis-typed. So in the absence of that, and in the absence of my being able to call or email, you can set a time every month or two months that I can come and look at my cases. It’s an idea. There are several other ideas. [16-21] In fact, the last part of the allegations were about an appeal that I did not even file. I had prevailed in the Circuit Court on the PCR case that I was allowed to proceed pro se and I had prevailed twice, twice. And then the State appealed, or certiorari. And that stayed on for three months — three years, I’m sorry. [22 to page 96, line 1] And then the last step is that the remittitur did not issue on time. So that’s one of my biggest things. You can set it. I mean if the cases are, are — what’s the word — resolved, resolved, then there would be no reason for me to ask. [2-6] But while cases are pending if you don’t want me to call and you don’t want me to send emails and you don’t want me to, and you don’t want to put them on C-track, let me come once a month or whatever and look at them.
[7-14] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [7-12] Your statement is based on a false premise as if you are precluded from access to your files or public records. That is not part of the 2017 order. The means of you gaining access is limited because of the reasons clearly set forth in the 2017 order. [13-14] Now I want to just ask my colleagues if they wish to take a break to discuss this dialogue or to move forward?
[15-23] DR. FALTAS: Actually, sir, this is where Mr. Shearouse, and that was produced to me in discovery, said that when she comes don’t even talk to her. So you’re telling me that I’m not precluded, but I am precluded. I mean the order, if it says don’t call and don’t email, it says don’t even talk to people. So there was no way for me to know what’s happening in my cases. And this is, as I said, one thing that I just found in discovery in this case. So no, it wasn’t a false premise.
[24 to page 97, line 5] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Well the Court has for a long time attempted, without much success, to have you comply with the 2017 order. And that’s why we’re here today. I get indication from some of my colleagues that we’re going to take a five minute break. We’ll discuss what you said, ma’am. And then we’ll come back for further the discussion. Five minutes.
[6] (Hearing adjourned at 12:55 p.m., 3/10/22) [7] * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * [8] (Hearing reconvened at 1:06 p.m., 3/10/22)
[9] MS. BRYANT: All rise.
[10-23] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: [10-16] Thank you all so much, please be seated. First of all, all five of us appreciate your patience. We have discussed Dr. Faltas’ concerns, and this is where we are in the proceedings. We cannot as a matter of law accept something called a conditional guilty plea. So we’re going to move forward and conclude the examination of Mr. Shearouse. [17-23] I will tell you, Dr. Faltas, that it’s the desire of the Court when at the end of this process, it won’t be today, but at the end of this process, we’ll finish the proceeding today we hope, but when this proceeding is concluded we’re going to have to take some time to issue an order. And part of that order is going to respond to your request for access to your records.
[24] DR. FALTAS: Thank you.
[25 to page 98, line 5] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: So we hear you in that regard, and we’re going to address that when we issue an order. And rather than do that now off the cuff, it’s just better that we finish this proceeding, close the proceeding, and then we can address everything in one order.
[6] DR. FALTAS: Thank you, sir.
[7] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Okay.
[8] DR. FALTAS: Thank you, sir.
[9-12] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: So we’re going to move forward. If you have any further questions of Mr. Shearouse related to the specific times of the communications to him that were allegedly in violation of the 2017 order?
[13-24] DR. FALTAS: Thank you. Thank you very much. And I thank God that you made this decision. But may I just ask to leave it on the table, you know? Because you know, for your consciences and everything. What’s so bad about — when I’m not saying I’m asking, I mean what’s so bad about my having emailed once or twice, or called when some of my papers were not handled? I mean doesn’t everyone else call? I don’t want this to come through as if I’m saying I’m right and you’re wrong. But I want to understand what’s so bad from your point of view? I mean it’s possible that you can ration my calls, you can, I mean.
[25] JUSTICE KITTREDGE: We’re going to address that.
[Page 99, line 1] DR. FALTAS: Okay.

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SubZeroIQ August 6, 2023 at 10:14 am

This may be INDIRECTLY relevant to this thread (bacause I believe some other lawyers and possibly some judge received some of Alex Murdaugh’s loot); and, though posted elsewhere first, it is too brilliant to not post here as well. So, here it is:
The Satterfield estate got over $7M by blackmailing Bank of America (“BoA”) and PIMPED lawyers under a strange and illegal theories that the Satterfield heirs suffered “emotional distress” because Alex Mrudaugh (“AM”) defrauded two insurance companies then kept the loot all to himself.
Gloria fell due to pre-existing conditions and died 24 days later in hospital from a heart attack more likely due to her diabetes than to her fall from a low-to-moderate height.
The Satterfield heirs LIKELY knew about the insurance fraud but said nothing because they were hoping to share the loot AND give themselves a window of deniability.
NOT ONE of the Satterfield heirs asked Gloria in her 24 days in hospital whether dogs were involved.
The most likely behind the scenes scenario is that one or more of the Satterfield heirs is the real killer of Maggie and Paul to keep them from admitting that no dogs were involved.
Perhaps when one or more of the Satterfield heirs pressed AM for the whole loot or part of it, AM responded, “if you don’t leave me alone, Paul and Maggie are going to tell the truth that no dogs were involved. This way none of us gets anything.”
That was a risky move by AM. That is why, upon his discovery of Paul and Maggie’s bodies, he is heard lamenting, “I should have known.”
Yes, AM should have known there is no such thing as thieves’ honor. Now, the Satterfields are learning it, too.

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SubZeroIQ August 9, 2023 at 9:39 am

Okay, let’s see if FITS can swim against some bigger fish.
I am not talking about U.S. Supreme Court revelations on BOTH Justice Thomas and Justice Sotomayor, which show that the snout-in-the-trough syndrome affects appointees of BOTH parties.
There are bigger-fish journalists for that.
Is Callie Lyons, for example, ready, capable, or even willing, to investigate why J. Michelle Childs, when a state trial judge, did not disclose that she herself was a landlady of more than one rental property when she sat on a landlord-tenant dispute and made an atrocious pro-landlord ruling then gohst-wrote for then-SC-Chief-Justice Jean Toal a series of orders preventing THAT tenant form appealing Childs’ orders in that case and others?
Does Callie Lyons dare ask why Childs protected and continues to protect Hatchet-for-Hire Heather, full name Sara Heather Savitz Weiss?
FITS want McMaster, and after him Alan Wilson, to appoint judges in South Carolina instead of the Legislature electing them?
You wants Leon Lott to dictate sentences or even cause the presumed-innocent to be killed in pre-trial detention?
Let’s talk again about whom McMaster chose for Interim Solicitor and whom Alan Wilson is likely to choose for judge if he gets crowned (that is “elected” with contributions from lawyers) king (“governor” with power to give millions to private lawyers).
Yes, God willing and FITS permitting, I shall keep writing about Hatchet-for-Hire Heather, full name Sara Heather Savitz Weiss.
BTW, it was Judge Manning who swore Weiss in as Interim Solicitor and patiently stood for a photo with Mr. and Mrs. Savitz (Heather’s mom and pop) and Todd and Sara Weiss and their son (an aspiring actor) and daughter (an aspiring dancer, aspiring LAWYER-LEGISLATOR, and aspiring governor).
Stephen Savitz is now the lead-partner of Savitz-Bettis. That law firm has, at least since Charlie Condon was SC Attorney General (“SCAG”), collected hundreds of thousands, if not millions, DIRECTLY from SC’s Insurance Reserve Fund (“SCIRF”) for work defending state agencies and governors which SCAG’s office should have done itself but instead farms out to private lawyers and private law firms.
Those private lawyers and private law firms in turn make campaign contributions to SCAG and solicitor candidates.
Alan Wilson recieved such campaign-rescuing contributions from Stephen Savitz in March 2010; and as soon as Alan Wilson took office in January 2011, he hired Heather, who was being run off from her assistant-solicitor position by new Chief Deputy Solicitor Dan Goldberg.
There is reaon to SUSPECT Heather continued to collect the additional $70K/year from the City of Columbia to do hatchet jobs on (meaning bring false criminal charges against) the City of Columbia’s critics and opponents in civil litigation.
But that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Savitz-Bettis also employed Shahin Vafai, a former law clerk to Jean Toal (and co-author of one of her books) and later to federal Judge Joe Anderson.
Shahin Vafai has apparently now retired from law to write Bahai books.
Who replaced him at Savitz-Bettis? R. Hayne Hodges, III, son of Robert H. Hodges, Jr., now senior judge of the Court of Federal Claims and former aide to Strom Thurmond.
The THIRD is married to Shiva Vafai, Shahin’s sister and also a former law clerk to Jean Toal and Joe Anderson.
The Vafais apparently came to the U.S. as refugees from persecution of Bahais in Iran under the Shah, who had closed all Bahai temples to placate the Shi-a clerics after photos of Soraya Efandiari Pahlavi (the Shah’s second wife) water-skiing in a bikini in Florida were published and caused a fire storm in Iran.
Shiva got appointed a federal magistrate, apparently as a diversity token, and is probably campaigning for the judgeship left open after J. Michelle Childs got elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
How does Shiva campaign to be the first Iranian-American Bahai federal judge? Why, of course, by being extra tough on OTHER immigrants and refugees.
Nothing wrong with that if Shiva were following the law.
But instead Shiva writes things so false and stupid they indicate she has no respect for herself OR for the Constitution she swore to defend.
Shiva wrote that the Constitution does NOT guarantee a criminal defendant a jury of her peers. She really wrote that. The right to a jury of one’s peers is even much older than the U.S. Constitution and traces back to Magna Carta.
But Shiva was willing to ignore it.
What else does Shiva ignore in her “legal” writings? For one, the well-established rule that, in the initial testing of a complaint for legal sufficiency, the stated allegations are taken as true and all reasonable inferences from them are to be accepted.
Why does Shiva so shamelessly distort the law? To help her husband who, through the Savits-Bettis law firm, often represents Richland County and Leon Lott.
Ethically, Shiva should not sit on cases where her husband’s clients are parties. But Shiva does it anyway in cases involving OTHER immigrants.
Who is going to enforce the rights of immigrant litigants to a fair judge? No one. Certainly not SC’s supreme court, the candidates for which use xenophobia as resume enhancement.
So, Leon Lott, whom Shiva’s husband regularly defends on taxpayer’s money, bad-mouthes pre-trial detainees at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center (“ASGDC”), the presumed-innocent pre-trial detainees get stabbed (in one recent instance to death), Lott gets to do the investigation and plays dumb (at best) about his own incitement of violence at ASGDC.
If and when a surviving ASGDC detainee, or the family of a deceased one, sues ASGDC, Lott, and/or Richland County, Shiva gets herself assigned to the case and recommends that Richland County gets dismissed.
Again, who polices that unethical behavior by federal jurists? Certainly not SC’s Supreme Court who is deep in mutually-assured-extortion with some current and former federal judges and their law clerks AND the later employers of those law clerks and judges when they retire.
The Murdaughs are not the root of all evil, the love of money is. And many federal judges (the model of appointment FITS clamors for) love money as much as the next guy or gal or as much as FITS and the next blogger.
If this comment gets through, stay tuned for the sequel, God willing and FITS permitting.

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SubZeroIQ August 14, 2023 at 8:22 pm

This is NOT earthquake but important and timely: Tomorrow, God willing, there are TWO Murdaugh-related hearings in Charleston federal court: the Fleming sentencing in the morning and the Nautilus v. Murdaugh civil suit in the afternoon (or flip that). Will you be there to COVER either or both?
Also, on your 12 August 2023 WIR video, when you, FITS, said, “government run school,” I thought you said “Governor school,” and I assumed you meant the Governor School for Math and Science. So, I had thought you were a better a high school student than you really were.

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