Post Tagged with: "SC Supreme Court"

Discovery Imminent in Skydive Myrtle Beach Case Remanded to District Court

October 13, 2019 7:42 AM
Discovery Imminent in Skydive Myrtle Beach Case Remanded to District Court

Discovery requests for production of documents, answers to interrogatories and depositions will go out very shortly in the lawsuit that Skydive Myrtle Beach (SDMB) filed against Horry County, the Horry County Department of Airports (HCDA), Robinson Aviation and numerous individuals associated with those entities.

After hearing arguments by the opposing parties in the case last spring, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed prior decisions by the Fifteenth Circuit Court and S. C. Court of Appeals and remanded that case back to district court for trial.

In October 2015, Horry County government evicted Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport using a 73 page Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Director’s Determination as justification. Much of the Director’s Determination report was based on 112 safety violations allegedly committed by SDMB.

The alleged safety violations were recorded on a form generated by the HCDA, called an “Unusual Incident Report”. They are one page reports signed either by HCDA staff members or Robinson Aviation personnel. In one case, five alleged violations were reported by letter to the FAA from former HCDA Director Pat Apone.

No record of any action, other than the filling out of these forms, by either HCDA or Robinson Aviation, the contracted tower operator at Grand Strand Airport, was taken. It appears the forms were created to establish a paper record of alleged safety violations with no backup investigations to support the allegations.

These forms were the ones county attorney Arrigo Carotti provided in response to an FOIA request. Along with that response was a cover letter by Carotti which stated in part, “These records are provided in an abundance of caution, in that each may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.”

On at least three occasions since the Director’s Determination was published, the FAA has admitted in email correspondence regarding Freedom of Information Act requests that it has no documentation with respect to investigations, fines or other information on the alleged 112 violations.

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Supreme Court May Address Merits of Skydive Myrtle Beach v Horry County et al Case

October 7, 2019 9:01 AM
Supreme Court May Address Merits of Skydive Myrtle Beach v Horry County et al Case

The S.C. Supreme Court notified both attorneys in the Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County lawsuit that they have been afforded the opportunity to file supplemental briefs with the Supreme Court addressing the merits of the entire case.

The order, signed by Chief Justice Donald Beatty, was filed two days after a September 24, 2019 hearing of the parties before the Court.

The September 24th hearing was scheduled to address whether a claim by the county that the issue of the county’s eviction of Skydive Myrtle Beach (SDMB) from Grand Strand Airport in October 2015 was in fact “moot” as the county claimed.

Attorney Mike Battle, representing Horry County, told the court during his oral argument that the decision before the Court was of a very limited scope.

Evidently the justices don’t see it that way.

The order from the Chief Justice reads in part, “The briefs filed with this Court only address the issue of mootness. … this Court may wish to address the merits of this case. Therefore, this Court will afford each party the opportunity to serve and file a supplemental brief addressing the merits.”

The order goes on to say any supplemental brief must be filed within 30 days of the date on the order, September 26, 2019, and no briefing in response to any supplemental brief filed will be allowed.

The merits of the case have never been litigated.

The Supreme Court has heard arguments before it on two occasions regarding aspects of the case.

The first hearing, held last spring, dealt with whether the District Court erred in removing individual defendants from the case. The S.C. Court of Appeals upheld that decision but the Supreme Court reversed it and remanded the case to District Court for trial with the individuals included with Horry County, Horry County Department of Airports and Robinson Aviation as defendants.

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SC Supreme Court Overturns SkyDive MB Dismissal

March 17, 2019 3:47 AM
SC Supreme Court Overturns SkyDive MB Dismissal

By a 4-1 decision, the S. C. Supreme Court overturned decisions at the District Court and Appeals Court levels giving SkyDive Myrtle Beach the opportunity to prove its case in court.

The details of the case have never been heard as Horry County was successful at using some legal hocus pocus at the lower court levels to keep from allowing the case to go forward.

That is not the result now as the case, SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County et al, has now been remanded back to the District Court and will go on the trial roster with discovery pending immediately.

This means the case, once described by Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti as “rightfully dismissed by all who have discerned the true set of affairs,” was not treated in that fashion by the Supreme Court.

Referring to SkyDive Myrtle Beach owner Aaron Holly, myself and others, Carotti wrote the following to a council member inquiring about the case:

“On Aug 15, 2017, at 11:24 AM, Carotti, Arrigo wrote:

The misrepresentation of facts and the law has been ongoing on the part of Mr. Holly, misguided bloggers, and Holly surrogates for several years now, involving universally unsuccessful litigation by Holly, and pending litigation against the FAA, the State of South Carolina, Horry County, officials and employees. There have been no new admissions, the FAA’s and County’s sound positions in the matter remaining the same.  Defamatory commentary on the part of Holly and his surrogates also has been ongoing and is expected to continue, but has been rightfully dismissed by all who have discerned the true set of affairs, borne out in voluminous court documents and public records.

Arrigo P. Carotti / County Attorney”

The original case was filed on February 28, 2014 against Horry County under the general court classification “Unfair Trade Practices.” It alleged a pattern of harassment by the County and its Department of Airports (HCDA) with the ultimate goal of removing SDMB from Grand Strand Airport (GSA) as the original complaint states:

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SC Supreme Court Slaps Down Alan Wilson

July 13, 2016 11:52 AM
SC Supreme Court Slaps Down Alan Wilson

By a 4-1 margin, the SC Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Attorney General Alan Wilson had no authority to remove solicitor David Pascoe from a continuing investigation into corruption in the SC General Assembly.

The investigation began in 2014 and is reported to center around misuse of campaign funds and abuse of power for personal gain by what is called in yesterday’s opinion the “redacted legislators.”

The Attorney General recused himself from the case for possible conflict of interest in July 2015 and his office turned the investigation over to Pascoe. Pascoe, from that point, was acting as the “state’s highest prosecutor.”

The key finding stated, “The initial correspondence from the Attorney General’s Office to both Pascoe and Chief Keel in July 2015, stated, without reservation, that the Attorney General’s Office was recused from the redacted legislators investigation, leaving only Pascoe as the state’s highest prosecutor in that matter.”

In addition, the Court found transferring the case to Pascoe included the right to order a State Grand Jury investigation into the case. “Pascoe has met his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence he was vested with the authority to act as the Attorney General in the (probe), and that this authority necessarily included the power to initiate a state grand jury investigation.”

In March 2016, Wilson attempted to remove Pascoe from the case, attempting to replace him with a different solicitor who refused to take Pascoe’s place. At this point, Wilson attempted to politicize the issue by smearing Pascoe in the media.

Central to the issue was an attempt by Pascoe to initiate a Grand Jury investigation, something Wilson claimed only he had the authority to do. The Court tore apart Wilson’s interpretation of the State Grand Jury law.

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Déjà vu for SC General Assembly

December 29, 2015 5:17 AM
Déjà vu for SC General Assembly

In November 2014, when everyone was talking about the upcoming SC General Assembly legislative session, three big topics were at the fore, ethics reform, transportation maintenance and repair funding and education funding.

One year later, as preparations are made for the second session of the 121st General Assembly, those three topics are still waiting to be addressed.

Real ethics reform falls into three areas – disclosure of all sources of income for members and their immediate families, disclosure of donor sources in these currently anonymous PACs and an independent process for ethics violation investigations.

Under our current ethics system, the House and Senate have ethics committees that essentially do nothing, and the SC Ethics Commission, which covers all other public officials throughout the state, specializes in collecting fines for late filing of disclosure documents.

All three areas have strong resistance, especially in the Senate, so expect another year where ethics is talked about much and accomplished not at all.

In the area of transportation maintenance and repair or general infrastructure funding, one lesson should have been learned with the floods of October – you can only ignore maintenance and repair of necessary infrastructure for so long.

When old, neglected infrastructure is hit with unusual conditions, it will fail. Some of the flood damage we saw would have happened anyway, but dams failing, bridges collapsing and roads washing out were as much a consequence of neglect as it was from the storm.

School funding, or rather equitable funding for poor, rural school districts is a subject that has been effectively dodged in one way or another since the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954.

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SC General Assembly and School Funding

October 22, 2015 4:44 AM
Travis Bell Photographers

The SC General Assembly is trying to make a constitutional crisis out of last year’s SC Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

SC House Speaker Jay Lucas and SC Senate President pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman filed a motion earlier this week with the SC Supreme Court requesting reconsideration of the Court’s November 2014 finding.

The finding stated the SC General Assembly was not providing enough funding for the poorer school districts in the state for even the ‘minimally adequate education’ called for by the state Constitution.

The main thrust of the motion was revealed in a press release by Speaker Lucas issued Monday:

“Arbitrary deadlines that seek to hijack the legislative process and meaningless approval from an unrealistic super-panel will not reform South Carolina’s education delivery system. Achieving actual improvement requires extensive study and input from those most familiar with the issues.

“The Court’s attempt to overstep its judicial authority further complicates the lawmaking process. More importantly, it negates the significant progress made by the House Education Task Force over the last ten months. Every child in every part of our state deserves access to a 21st century education. Because we must preserve the diligent work already completed by our task force, we think it is imperative that the Supreme Court vacate their most recent order and remove itself from the legislative process,” said Speaker Lucas.

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SC Supreme Court Tests Constitutionality

September 29, 2015 9:07 AM
SC Supreme Court Tests Constitutionality

The SC Supreme Court agreed recently to grant two petitions or original jurisdiction that could have broad ranging consequences for the way the SC General Assembly does business.
Both petitions were filed by upstate activist Ned Sloane and his government watchdog organization South Carolina Public Interest Foundation.

One petition deals with a budget proviso for the current fiscal year. The proviso suspended for one year a sunset clause in a 2007 law that takes away the governor’s authority to appoint the Department of Transportation secretary.

The petition claims the proviso is unconstitutional because it violates Article III, Section 17 of the state constitution which requires that every law shall relate to only one subject. The petition alleges the proviso has nothing to do with the raising and spending of tax revenue.

In 2009, the SC Supreme Court ruled that in the future, a law successfully challenged under the one subject rule would see the entire law ruled unconstitutional.

Therefore, if this proviso is determined by the SC Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, the entire state budget for the current fiscal year could be declared unconstitutional.

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Three Weeks Left for Do-Nothing SC General Assembly

May 19, 2015 7:00 AM
Three Weeks Left for Do-Nothing SC General Assembly

Three weeks remain in this year’s SC General Assembly legislative session.

It would be nice to think SC lawmakers would actually accomplish something useful before the year is done.

But, that is wishing too much from our current crop of do-nothing legislators in Columbia.

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Supreme Court Rules Bobby Harrell Investigation May Continue

May 22, 2014 4:00 PM
Supreme Court Rules Bobby Harrell Investigation May Continue

The S.C. Supreme Court ruled earlier today that the state grand jury, Attorney General Alan Wilson and SLED may continue with an investigation into possible ethics and criminal violations by S. C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

This reverses a ruling made after a May 12th hearing in District Court, by Judge Casey Manning, which ordered the investigation halted and the grand jury disbanded.

In his ruling, Manning stated that the S.C. House Ethics Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over investigation of ethics violations by Harrell or other members of the House and only the Ethics Committee can refer an investigation to the AG or grand jury.

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Curtis Loftis, SCRSIC Supreme Showdown Fizzles

April 18, 2013 9:00 AM
Curtis Loftis, SCRSIC Supreme Showdown Fizzles

The anticipated showdown Tuesday between S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis and the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission over transparency of investment details by the commission fizzled out Tuesday.

Loftis, a voting member of the commission, was holding out on signing a check for a $50 million investment, approved by the commission, until he received certain assurances in writing from commission attorneys.

As a result of Loftis’ initial refusal to issue the check and an impending default deadline for the investment, the remaining SCRSIC commissioners sued Loftis to force him to act.

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