S.C. Family Court and Lawyers Retaliate Against Outspoken Journalist, Part 3

Alex Campbell

This is a continuation of Parts 1 and 2 of S.C. Family Court and Lawyers Retaliate Against Outspoken Journalist. Click Here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2.


Operation Jill in a Box

Dion got in contact with the Richland County Chief Administrative Judge’s administrative assistant who is Linda Taylor.

Taylor heard Dion’s complaint against the Richland County Courthouse and Janet Irvine. Taylor told Dion to come back to the courthouse and try to file for dismissal again. Dion informed Linda Taylor that he shouldn’t have to come back to the courthouse to have his case dismissed because based on South Carolina law the Clerk of Court was supposed to have his case dismissed automatically once the original filing date is beyond 365 days and no final hearing was scheduled.

In a recorded conversation on a later date, Taylor would confirm that the Richland County Clerk of Court Jeannette McBride “fumbled” in the handling of the dismissal of his case based on South Carolina law.

Dion and the Richland County Court Administrator and Clerk of Court scheduled a meeting just a week after the original incident. The fact that this meeting occurred or was set up is an admission that something went wrong and especially if during that meeting Dion received several apologies. We’ve obtained a recording of that meeting but there is more behind that occasion that Dion wanted to be mentioned.

“We both mutually agreed these people were probably going to lie so we would pretend to concede on some things but that’s only to get information. My goal was to wind up Janet Irvine because I know she has a really bad temper and if I push the right buttons I’ll get her to say things she shouldn’t say. Then, Nic comes in all calm and thus earns a lower-tier level of trust with everyone in the room. In that sort of situation, people tend to be more candid and more honest without realizing it. I called it Operation Jill in a box because its kinda like a Jack in the box. I’d push the right buttons with Irvine and get her to get defensive and lie. Nic would notice and then chime in with the nice guy tactic to get more candid answers to unrelated questions,” Dion explained.

The meeting was calm for the most part but also intense in other parts. Dion kept questioning Janet Irvine about him being prevented from filing. Irvine talked around the point but never directly admitted fault even though the meeting occurring at all points to her fault. Keep in mind that by South Carolina law if a final hearing hadn’t been scheduled and if Dion’s case had extended past 365 days the Richland County Clerk of Court was supposed to present his case to the Chief Administrative Judge for immediate dismissal without prejudice. Dion shouldn’t have had to come to the Richland County Courthouse to have his case dismissed. That should have been done automatically and yet nobody representing Richland County ever admitted this fact.

Here is a recording of that meeting:

If you go to the 2:30 mark, you’ll notice that Janet Irvine engages in deception or ignorance of South Carolina law. Irvine stated, “Both parties have to be notified if you want to dismiss something.” She doesn’t appear to understand that it should have been the Clerk of Court who was sitting right next to her who should have had the case dismissed and not Dion.

Here is a quote from the 365-Day Benchmark:

The County Clerks of Court shall indicate on all domestic relations and juvenile cases (with the exception of DSS Abuse and Neglect cases) the following notice:  “Written requests for a final hearing in this case must be delivered by a party or attorney to the Clerk’s Office within 365 days of this filing date.  Failure to comply with this notice shall result in the dismissal of this case by the Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes.

Irvine would go on to continue to circumvent the point of the meeting. She stated, “We can’t just schedule something without notifying the other attorney.” The problem with that statement is that it doesn’t matter what Dion did or didn’t do. The law is the law. It is up to the Clerk of Court to notify all parties involved that a case that has gone on for longer than 365-days without a final hearing scheduled shall be dismissed. Irvine appears to be attempting to shift blame onto Dion even though this entire situation is on her and especially on Jeannette McBride who is the Richland County Clerk of Court.

“That woman couldn’t stop lying to save her life,” Dion said.

“We did get something out of her though. We proved that the courthouse doesn’t know the law. The people should be scared to death if two guys can walk off the street and know more about South Carolina law then these people who get paid in their tax dollars,” Dion went on to say.

Recently, we’ve learned that Blakely Copeland-Cahoon is trying to extend Dion’s case based on a separate action she filed back in April 2019. The problem with this is that the action falls under the original docket number involved in the case which was filed in January 2019. Based on the 365-Day Benchmark all subsequent actions filed under the same case with the same people involved in family court are dismissed if the original action is dismissed.

The separate action generated another docket number. A docket number is a number assigned to a case but falls under the original docket of the first filing. This means one can’t just file a bunch of actions with the same allegations.

Here is another quote from the 365-Day Benchmark:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that in the event an action is dismissed without prejudice pursuant to this Administrative Order, any existing orders in the affected case file which were not final will be considered null and void and no longer subject to enforcement by this court (including, but not limited to, the enforcement and collection of child support and/or alimony), with any support arrearages being thereby dismissed.

It doesn’t matter how many new actions that Copeland-Cahoon files. All of those actions are filed under the original docket number in family court and this is especially the case if its the same year. The reason why this has to be done is because of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. If lawyers were allowed to file action after action and a case with different docket numbers without any binding to the original docket number then that would destroy the very notion of justice.

If someone disproved a claim under one action and a specific docket number then that same lawyer could keep accusing the person over and over again. Sure, there are certain defenses against this but the average person may not be aware of this. Keep in mind that family courts are civil courts. Unlike a criminal court, in family court lawyers are not automatically assigned if someone can’t afford one. Therefore, it is up to a pro-se litigant or someone who represents themselves to know this information and to know a lawyer can’t just file action after action in the hopes of inflicting Double Jeopardy or having someone heard more than once for the same accusation.

 

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