FROM THE PRESIDENT
Happy New Year!
In my last letter, I wrote about the rule at the Charleston County Judicial Center prohibiting anyone from carrying a camera - including those contained in cell phones - into the Charleston County Judicial Center without specific permission. This rule posed a real problem for any lawyer who needed his/her cell phone (although not necessarily the camera) in the courthouse or who just did not have time to take it back to their car or office when they found out about the rule after going through security. The good news is that, at the request of our Bench/Bar Liaison Committee, Sheriff Cannon has made an exception to the rule for lawyers. Many thanks to Chief Administrative Judge Markley Dennis and Clerk of Court Julie Armstrong for their support in this regard. You now have one thing less to worry about on the way to the courthouse - if you are a lawyer, you can take your cell phone in - even if it does have a camera in it. Of course, you will still have to show your ankles (even Chief Justice Toal has been heard to murmur "why do they want to see my ankles?" after going through security at the Charleston Judicial Center). So now, just wear matching socks and all will be well - you can walk through with your cell phone and your dignity in hand. It's a small privilege, but really good to know that law enforcement, the judges and courthouse personnel recognize that being an officer of the court means something. One word to the wise, though. The rule about cell phones going off in the courtroom applies to lawyers and the public alike. So, please, if you have to use your cell phone in the hallway, make sure it is off when you go back into the courtroom.
I can hardly believe it's almost the end of my time as President. When Richard Gershon, the Dean of the Charleston School of Law, and I chatted last year at our Annual Meeting while shucking oysters and eating boiled peanuts, he told me about the law school's desire to have a collaborative relationship with our Bar. I smiled and said that would be great. Meanwhile, I figured that there was not much chance of getting too far down that road during my one-year term as President. It is not that I am cynical; I did believe he meant it, but I felt that a collaborative relationship with the Bar was not likely to rise to the top of what had to be a long and challenging series of bullets on the new school's to-do list. Okay, okay, I was wrong (who cares, when it's a good thing). Many of you have received a letter Dean Gershon recently sent to each Bar member announcing the school's efforts to make its library available to the Bar - including the on-line resources - free of charge. (I say "many of you" because databases being what they are, I did not get the letter.) If you did not get the letter - or even if you did - it bears repeating. The law school has made its Westlaw and Matthew Bender on-line programs, including all of Bender's loose-leaf services, available to Bar members on-line at the school. There is even a computer terminal in a separate office in the library exclusively dedicated for use by members of the Bar. All you need to do is register at the reception desk when you arrive at the law school and a member of the library staff will help you sign on to the electronic services. In addition, the school has arranged to be a satellite down-link site for the South Carolina Bar and is hosting CLE programs regularly.
Many thanks to Dean Gershon and the law school founders for thinking that we are worthy of these generous gifts. We have many opportunities to repay the gift and strengthen the collaboration. The law school is working now to place their students in good jobs with local firms. Part-time students may work during the school year and full-time students are now seeking clerkships for this summer. Call Marta Borinsky, the school's Director of Career Services, for help with your hiring needs.
John Massalon, the Chair of our Mentor Committee, has asked me to let you know that you can now register to participate in our mentor program on-line. The Committee has established two goals for the program: to provide a mentor to each new member of the County Bar during their first year as a member; and to provide a mentor to any member of the County Bar who requests one to discuss substantive, ethical or professional issues. Those interested in serving as mentors, as well as those who want to be assigned a mentor, are encouraged to include this new program in their plans for the new year. Just go to the County Bar's website at www.charlestonbar.org, click on the link for the Mentor Program, and follow the instructions. Anyone with questions or comments about the registration forms, or the mentor program in general, can contact John Massalon by email at email@example.com or by phone at 727-1144.
McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLC is pleased to announce that William Thomas "Tom" Bacon, IV and Amanda M. Morgan have joined the firm's Charleston office as associates, and Mark Davis and Anne Marie Hagood have been elected as members of the firm.
McNair Law Firm, P.A. is pleased to announce that John E. Rosen has joined the firm in its Charleston office. Mr. Rosen will concentrate his practice on corporate, economic development and international law.
Weston Law Firm, P.A. is pleased to announce that Ann E. Goulding has joined the firm as an associate. The firm is also pleased to announce the relocation of its office to 761 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, Suite 100, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. Tel. 881-4995; Fax 881-4009.
Attorney needed: Turner, Padget, Graham & Laney, P.A. is seeking a highly qualified attorney, preferably with experience in the range of three to eight years, in the areas of commercial real estate, lending and general business transactions for employment in our Greenville office. Please send resume to Drew Williams, Post Office Box 1473, Columbia, SC 29202. All inquiries will be kept in strict confidence.
South Carolina licensed attorney seeks position in Charleston area law firm. Experience in Plaintiff's medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and personal injury cases. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out of state attorney seeks solo or small firm Charleston attorney to serve as partner in Charleston office of new business and litigation law firm based out of state. Please call (207) 653-9220.
Office for Rent: Law office at 42 Broad Street, second floor available for tenant. Fax and copy machines available, as well as law library. Free parking space is included. Call 577-3353.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The Charleston County Bar Association Annual Meeting and Oyster Roast/Barbecue will be held on February 22 at Alhambra Hall. Invitations will be sent out in late January. Please remember to include $75.00 for your 2005 Charleston County dues when you pay your South Carolina State Bar dues for 2005. (You should have received this notice in November). If you know of or have had any new attorneys join your firm since last February who have not previously joined the Charleston County Bar Association, please send Julie Kemp their names so that an invitation can be sent to them at this time. Please remember that your Charleston County Bar dues for 2005 have to be paid prior to the Annual Meeting. We do not send out a separate bill and appreciate each attorney paying through the South Carolina Bar.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL
CHARLESTON COUNTY BAR MEMBERS
Any attorney who has a change of address or contact information should do the following in the future: 1) go the Charleston County Bar Association Website: www.charlestonbar.org; 2) click on "Contact Us"; and 3) fill out the pertinent information. This will ensure that your information is changed on the website and also on our local Bar's mailing list. Most of our mailings are sent via bulk mail. If the address that we have on record is not correct, the Post Office does not return it to us and we have no notification of a problem with the address.
In the future we plan to do mass e-mails to members of the Charleston County Bar when there is important information to relay to members in between newsletters. It is VERY IMPORTANT that your e-mail information is current. Please check out the information under "Lawyer's Directory" to be sure that all of your information is correct. If you are not listed or have corrections to be made, please follow the directions above or e-mail the information to Julie Kemp at email@example.com.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
To: Attorneys Practicing Before the Federal Bench:
During the past few months, the District Court has been in the process of implementing Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) software in the District of South Carolina. CM/ECF is a new automated case management and electronic docketing system which allows the Court to accept filings electronically.
The time has come! The United States District Court anticipates "going live" in January 2005. Once we are "live," the District Court will accept electronic filings from ECF - trained and registered attorneys.
- For training on Electronic Case Filing, please visit the Court's website at www.scd.uscourts.gov and register on-line for CM/ECF training classes being held statewide.
- To register for Electronic Case Filings, please complete the "ECF Attorney Registration Form" available on our website. Within six months after the effective start date of Electronic Filing, all filings thereafter will have to be done using the electronic filing system unless an attorney is excused from doing so by the court upon a showing of good cause.
To learn more about electronic filing in the District Court, please visit the District's website at www.scd.uscourts.gov. The District Court's Electronic Case Filing Policies and Procedures, as well as the ECF Attorney User Manual, will be available on the website in the near future.
We understand that there will be many questions regarding CM/ECF. We highly encourage you and your support staff to visit our website.
Larry W. Propes, Clerk
U.S. District Court
PROCEDURE IN PROBATE COURT
FOR HANDLING TAXABLE ESTATES
When the Probate Court receives an Inventory and Appraisement that is taxable (at this time a value of $1,500,000), the Probate Court is required to send the following to the South Carolina Tax Commission:
- Copy of the filed Inventory and Appraisement;
- Copy of the Will if applicable; and
- Copy of the Fiduciary Letter.
The Clerk of the Probate Court inputs into the computer that the case is a "Taxable" case and the date that the above information was sent to the South Carolina Tax Commission.
At that time (if need be) the Estate Clerk will prepare an extension for 90-180 days (depending on the age of the case) so that the computer will not produce a compliance letter asking for the closing documents. At the end of the extension period, the Estate Clerk will note that it is time to extend the case again for another 90-180 days (depending on the age of the case). This process is repeated until the Probate Court receives the South Carolina Tax Closing Letter. Extensions of time to file are handled by the Estate Clerk in charge of the case and there is no need for the Personal Representative/Attorney to file extensions.
The statute requires that the Probate Court allow 90 days from the date of the tax closing letter before requiring the closing documents. The Estate Clerk again will have the case extended giving the allotted time and the closing documents are then due at the end of the 90 days.
Note: The procedure for obtaining the tax closing letter is:
- Personal Representative/Attorney files the estate tax return.
- The Internal Revenue Service sends the Federal Tax Closing Letter to the Personal Representative/Attorney.
- The Personal Representative/Attorney is responsible for sending the Federal Tax Closing Letter to the South Carolina Tax Commission which will trigger a tax closing letter from the South Carolina Tax Commission.
- The South Carolina Tax Commission will forward to the Probate Court the tax closing letter.
Issues that may arise:
- The federal tax return does not get filed with the Internal Revenue Service timely or is not filed at all by the Personal Representative/Attorney. This will delay the process or not start the process at all. The state tax return is triggered by the federal tax return closing letter.
- The Personal Representative/Attorney does not forward the Federal Tax Closing Letter to the South Carolina Tax Commission.
- The Inventory and Appraisement filed with the Probate Court does not reflect a taxable estate and the tax return does. If the Inventory and Appraisement does not reflect a taxable estate, the Probate Court does not forward the documentation to the South Carolina Tax Commission. The South Carolina Tax Commission will not process the tax closing letter until they receive the required documents from the Probate Court. The South Carolina Tax Commission will then contact the Probate Court for the required documents - resulting again in a delay in closing the estate.
- If the estate has problems with the tax return (litigation, etc.) the Personal Representative/Attorney should keep the Probate Court informed of the situation with proof of the litigation so that the estate can be extended.
PROCEDURE IN PROBATE COURT FOR HANDLING AN ESTATE WITH ONGOING LITIGATION IN ANOTHER COURT
When an estate is opened (a Personal Representative is appointed) and there is litigation in the estate in another Court other than the Probate Court please follow these procedures:
- Send out the "Information to Heirs/Devisees" as soon as possible. Send the original Information to Heirs/Devisee along with the Proof of Delivery back to the Probate Court.
- File the Inventory and Appraisement with the Probate Court within 90 days. If you are not able to gather information about all of the assets by 90 days, give the Probate Court an Inventory and Appraisement with the information you have. You can supplement the Inventory and Appraisement at a later date if needed and on the supplemental Inventory please list all the assets.
Note: By receiving the Inventory and Appraisement by the due date (90 days from date of appointment) this will stop the Probate Court from sending out compliance letters asking for the Inventory and Appraisement. The Probate Court will not show the Inventory and Appraisement as overdue and South Carolina Court Administration will not consider this a delinquent case for the Probate Court.
- As long as the case is in litigation the estate will be kept open; however, please show proof of litigation. Please furnish the Court with the front page or the entire complaint showing that litigation is still pending.
- The Court will continue to extend these estates until the litigation is complete but please keep the Probate Court informed of the status of the litigation. Please remember to let the Probate Court know that the litigation has been completed so that the Probate Court can properly handle the estate from that point.