A South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

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Question and Answer

Just in case Google did not have the answer you were looking for, I am here to help.  Some search terms that brought people to Trial Theory in the past month:

rules and regulations on pretrial gps monitoring in south carolina – there are no rules governing when a gps monitor can and cannot be ordered as a condition of bond.  As a result, some magistrates and municipal judges will order it at random.  If it’s a non-violent crime, and there is no victim to protect, such as in drug cases, it doesn’t make sense to put someone on gps monitoring as a condition of bond.  If you are charged with a General Sessions level offense, you can automatically move in the Circuit Court to amend the conditions of your bond, and you have a good chance of getting the ankle monitor off it you’re charged with a non-violent offense.  If not, you can re-file the motion once every six months, or whenever there is a change in circumstances.

private prisons cheap labor - Prison labor amounts to forced slavery, and is booming business for the government and private corporations.

ineffective assistance of counsel did not convey final plea offer – if counsel does not convey a plea offer to the client, it can be grounds for post-conviction relief.  The courts can’t force the prosecutor to make the offer again once the case is remanded, although, in fairness, the prosecutor should.

what motivates criminal law – Society’s need to stop people from committing crimes, to protect us from one another, and to prevent vigilante justice?

how long does disorderly conduct stay on record first offense in south carolina law in 2014 – If it’s the only conviction on your record, it can be expunged after 3 years – it’s not automatic, you will have to take action to get it expunged.

duis money making machines – for government, for MADD money, for police departments, and for attorneys.  Everyone wins financially, except the guy who got arrested.

how do i win a failure to appear - show up in court?  Seriously, if it’s a failure to appear at roll call and it’s the first time it’s happened, your attorney may be able to get the bench warrant lifted.  Talk to an attorney before turning yourself in.

the hand of one is the hand of all” theory south carolina – it’s another way of saying “accomplice liability.”  Some police think that this means if you are there, you are also guilty – not true.  The elements include 1) you are present; 2) you know what’s happening; and 3) you take some action to participate in it.  Mere presence is never enough to convict a person.

counsel should not waive preliminary hearings - I agree.  Your case could be dismissed at a preliminary hearing.  If it is, the solicitor’s office can still get an indictment, but they don’t always.  Even if it’s not dismissed, it’s your best chance at getting testimony from the arresting officer before trial, at a point where he has not been prepped for testimony – if the testimony is helpful, your attorney can get a transcript made to use later.  On a related note, the Horry County public defenders office is no longer waiving their clients’ preliminary hearings, and from what I’ve seen they are doing a good job with them.

proscutor knows cop is lying – results on case - I suppose it depends on the prosecutor, doesn’t it.  1) prosecutor calls cop out and informs the court that cop lied, maybe case is dismissed or the jury is informed (not likely); 2) prosecutor says nothing, argues the false testimony to the jury, and defendant is convicted; or 3) most likely – you say the cop is lying, but the prosecutor knows no such thing; likely the prosecutor would say you are the one lying.

sc cdv 1 girlfriend and boyfriend both arrested - what if you both plead the Fifth Amendment and they have no witnesses?  What about that?  Anyway, get attorneys now.

i was sentenced to the youthful offender act does my record still show up – yes.  But – five years after the completion of your sentence, if you have no other convictions, you can get your record expunged.

when u make a statement why do some people say nothing – some people have sense.  Or read my blog.

in a drug case can county attorney withhold evidence til trail - in a perfect world, when the prosecutor produces evidence on the eve of or morning of trial, the evidence is excluded or the case dismissed, depending on the egregiousness of the violation.  In the real world, the Court will probably allow the evidence in, tell the defense that there is no prejudice, since you have the evidence now, and allow the case to go forward and the evidence to be presented.

i got arrested but not convicted for cdv in sc, can i buy a handgun? - they might make you wait until the case is over, but the answer is yes you can.

 

how much does it cost to get expungement in sc per charge - if an attorney is handling it for you, it depends on the attorney and the complexity of the expungement.  The court costs vary, depending on whether the charges were dismissed (no court costs) or whether it was a conviction that now qualifies for expungment.

i was arrested for cdv in 2009 in lexington, sc when can i have it expunge? If there was no conviction, you can have the arrest expunged at any time.  If you were convicted, it can be expunged after 5 years if there are no other convictions on your record.

lie detector test pro’s and cons - Just don’t do it.  Law enforcement uses the polygraph as an interrogation tool.  The test is not reliable.  It is so unreliable that it is never admissible in court.

can i buy a gun in south carolina if convicted of cdv 10 years ago - no you cannot.  But, if you have no other convictions on your record, you can get the CDV expunged from your record.  If you do have other convictions on your record, you can apply for a pardon – a pardon restores your civil rights, including the right to own a firearm and to have a concealed carry permit.

are former prosecuters good lawyers? Yes.  No.  Being a former prosecutor does not make someone a better defense attorney, in my opinion.  That being said, I know some former prosecutors who are excellent defense attorneys and I would trust them with my own case.  I know many more who are terrible, who see their clients as dollar signs, and who see their job as helping you to plead guilty.

adam reposa contempt - never a dull moment with Mr. Reposa.  He’s a lawyer.  Also, Don’t be a jerk-off.  Oh, and don’t drive drunk.

my lawyer didnt go to a hearing and now i have a bench warrant - it may be that your lawyer didn’t go to the hearing, I don’t know, but you probably have a bench warrant because you didn’t appear, not because your lawyer didn’t appear.  Not apologizing for the lawyer, it may be he or she sucks and its their fault.  But courts don’t issue bench warrants unless you missed a court date yourself.

what is a roster meeting in court – ostensibly, it’s a day when the attorneys and prosecutors set a trial date.  The judge or the clerk goes down the list, calls the names of each defendant, and they pick the date.  Depending on what court you are in, it could instead be a day when the prosecutor leans on you to get you to plead guilty, or it could be a day when your prosecutor disappears into a back room to discuss your case with the prosecutor.

bobby g lockdown crime – Yeah.  That’s right.  I’m a lawyer.

 

 

Border patrol checkpoint refusal

H/T Reason.com – checkpoint officer is polite, friendly, and extremely conscious of protecting motorists’ constitutional rights:

(April Fools . . .)

Question and Answer

Just in case Google did not have the answer you were looking for, I am here to help.  Some search terms that brought people to trial theory in the last year (it’s been a while, hasn’t it):

find a case that cites this case and explain why the court in your case found the neil v. biggers case a useful precedent:  I’m guessing that, while taking a law school exam, this person just googled the entire exam question on their smart phone?  Dude, I am not going to help you cheat.

what were the guidelines in the neil v. biggers case:  Seriously, I’m not going to do it.

how to get a cdv off your record: If you have no other convictions, a CDV 1st offense can be expunged after five years.

do i need a lawyer at general session roll call:  Yes.  Although nothing substantive happens at roll call and, at least in Horry County, there is no judge there, you don’t want to be there without an attorney.  Also, apart from the Bond Returnable, there is a good chance that if you had a competent attorney you wouldn’t have to be there at all, because your attorney would have gotten you excused.

polygraphs pros and cons for criminal trials: there are no pros and cons for trial – they are inadmissible, period.  They are not admissible because they are not sufficiently reliable to be admitted.  Before trial, you need to know that polygraphs are used by law enforcement as an interrogation tool, and they are not used to clear your name.  Although the polygraph results are not admissible, anything that you say is.

state magistrate courts officers prosecute own cases: In Horry County, we have two assistant solicitors who work in the magistrate court who only prosecute CDV’s and DUI’s.  Every other type of case is prosecuted by the officer who made the case.  You might say this is not fair – officers have not been to law school and should not be required to try criminal cases.  You might also say it’s not fair when indigent CDV and DUI defendants, who also have not been to law school, are required to defend their own cases against trained prosecutors because we do not give them appointed counsel.

sc cwp law on carrying in bars:  If you have a concealed weapon permit in S.C., you can now carry your weapon in a restaurant or bar, as long as you are not drinking.

“mere presence at the scene of a crime”:  is not evidence of a crime.  It’s not probable cause, and it is not sufficient evidence for a case to be submitted to the jury.  Many officers think that if you are there when a crime is committed, you are guilty under “hand of one is the hand of all,” or accomplice liability, but it’s not true.  Accomplice liability requires that 1) you are there; 2) you know what’s happening; and 3) you participate in some way.  If all three elements are not present, you have not committed a crime.

 

is the drowning man trial real :  I don’t know.  If you mean, can “the drowning man” really be a theme at trial, then absolutely.  The jailhouse snitch, like the drowning man, will drag down everyone within reach.  Never trust a man with a family.

can a confidential informant videotape me: Absolutely.  Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you, Jerry.

public defender “trial chicken”:  When you play “chicken,” whether it’s in a car or in a courtroom, the person who is willing to crash and burn wins.  Or crashes and burns, on occasion.  If you’re willing to crash and burn, you may have the advantage.

can an employee in south carolina represent their company in magistrate courtAbsolutely not.  And if they do, they should know that unauthorized practice of law is a crime that carries up to five years in prison.

theory of defense for robbery: It was my stuff, I was just taking it back.  As a matter of fact, he robbed me.  She told me I could borrow it, then she just flipped out.  Some other dude did it.  At the exact time of the alleged robbery, I was feeding the homeless with several nuns and local government officials, all of whom are prepared to testify to my whereabouts?

criminal trail defence perspective:  I saw the criminal approaching, through a gap in the trees ahead.  I quickly set up a perimeter with trip wires connected to small bells, and hid behind a fallen oak about 20 yards off the trail, with my back to a large rock at the bottom of the cliff face, with a clear view of the trail ahead.  I took off my pack so it would not slow me down, hiding it beneath the tree.  He would not surprise me here, and I would have the advantage if he attempted to attack.

beach naked old woman:  Really?  There was a blog post about Dorchester County cops who tazed a naked 80 year old woman, but do you suppose that is what the anonymous googler was looking for?

are defense lawyers friends: Shocking as it may be, I have some friends that are defense lawyers.

Trial by Combat

Trial by combat, or wager of battle, trial by battle, or judicial duel, was a form of resolving disputes in European countries that probably ended in the 16th century.  There were different methods of trial by combat, with various judicial codes outlining how battles were to be fought, what weapons were to be used, what the combatants would wear, and other details.  According to Wikipedia, it’s origins were in Germanic tribal law but were carried over into the Frankish Empire, the later Holy Roman Empire, Britain, France, and Italy.

I’ve heard lawyers say that these were the humble beginnings of trial advocacy – a person accused of a crime could claim the right of trial by combat and name their champion, as Tyrion named Bronn as his champion to fight against Ser Vardis Egan in Game of Thrones.  A smart move, as Tyrion was a dwarf with no fighting skill and Bronn turns out to be quite deadly, if unscrupulous.

I don’t see any reference to the accused in criminal cases in early European law being permitted to choose a champion, although it may have happened – the Wikipedia article does talk about litigants being permitted to choose a champion in civil disputes, however, with some houses even keeping fighters on retainer to “litigate” on their behalf.  If the practice of choosing a champion were widespread, I cannot imagine that the medieval equivalent of a lawyer would last long in their given profession, however.  “Prosecutors and defense lawyers” would be in high demand and the profession would have a rather high turnover rate.

It’s a fascinating concept for trial lawyers, and there are some parallels to what happens in court today.  For one thing, at least in Britain, it appears that the right to Wager of Battle was permitted only when there was insufficient evidence to convict a person – if there was a confession, or witnesses to the crime, the accused was not permitted trial by combat.  On the other hand, if there was no evidence the accused could choose to fight to the death to clear his name – if he won his accuser would then be declared an outlaw and would be liable to the accused for damages.

Of course in today’s courts the complaining witness or the State is not held accountable when a defendant is acquitted.  But the parallels are there – more often than not, when there are witnesses and/or a confession, a defendant will plead guilty.  But, if the state’s case is weak yet they persist in prosecuting him, a defendant through his attorney will go to trial and battle the state for his freedom.

If the medieval accused was strong and a good fighter, in trial by combat he was likely to best his accuser in battle – or – his opponent would simply not show up and the accused would win by default.  Similarly, today if an accused is wealthy or has resources to hire the best lawyers, investigators, and experts, he is more likely to beat the State in trial or to have his charges dismissed without a trial.  On the other hand, if the accused in the Middle Ages was weak, he would forfeit and be punished rather than asking for trial by combat, just as today if a person is destitute they are more likely to plead guilty even when they are not, or to lose their trial and be wrongfully convicted.

A British man made national news in 2002 when he demanded the right to trial by battle, arguing that “his right to fight a champion nominated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was still valid under European human rights legislation . . .” and that he should be permitted to face his accuser with “samurai swords, Ghurka knives or heavy hammers.”  The magistrates disagreed and fined him 200 pounds and 100 pounds in costs.

An article in the Business Insider, and the Wikipedia article linked to above, point out that there is a rather tenuous argument that the right to trial by combat still exists under United States law, although it could violate the prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, it could violate the Due Process Clause, and there are specific prohibitions against dueling (but you could argue that the laws against dueling do not apply to judicially sanctioned dueling).

Our law in the United States is a combination of 1) statutory or written laws and 2) what is called the common law, or law developed over time by opinions issued by the courts.  The Thirteen Colonies, when they declared independence, adopted the common law of England.  When the colonies declared independence in 1776, the right to trial by combat, although not exercised, was still the law of England.  According to Wikipedia, the right of trial by combat was abolished in England in 1819, 43 years after the colonies declared independence.

Once the colonies had declared their independence, English laws and opinions of English courts were no longer binding on American courts, and apparently no post-independence American court has addressed the question of whether the right to trial by combat still exists.

Kyle Shamberg, in an article in the Huffington Post last year, quotes former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner as saying, “If trial by combat still works in Westeros, why can’t it work here? Honestly, I think we need a lot less Bush v. Gore and a lot more Hound v. Lightning Lord.”  He then goes on to list the pros and cons of re-enacting trial by combat:

Pros: ratings spikes for networks covering trials, fewer lawyers would be necessary (or survive), and finality (there would definitely be a decrease in appellate litigation).

Cons: lessened focus on the pursuit of truth, lots of dead people, and the “complete breakdown of the social structure, leading to U.S. population splitting into warring tribal factions solely concerned with securing resources and attempting to eke out another few precious hours of survival.”

Obviously, a motion demanding a defendant’s right to trial by combat in today’s courts will be denied.  The notion of a warrior, however, fighting on behalf of people for Justice or for Freedom, is the ideal for every trial lawyer.

 

Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance

This has been around for a while, but if you haven’t seen it yet it’s well worth reading – Drew Justice’s response to the government’s motion to ban the word “government” during trial, a ridiculous motion that, as Captain Justice points out, has no support in the law and probably violates the First Amendment.  Should the Court grant the government’s motion, Captain Justice suggests additional euphemisms that should be used during the course of the trial:

Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions…. First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art obviously has a fairly negative connotation…. At trial, Mr. P. hereby demands to be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title “Mister.”

Alternatively, he may be called simply “the Citizen Accused.” This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal “Defendant.” The designation “That innocent man” would also be acceptable.

Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a “lawyer,” or a “defense attorney.” Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent.” This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent.

Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation “Guardian of the Realm.”

Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name “Captain Justice” will be appropriate. While less impressive than “General,” still, the more humble term seems suitable. After all, the Captain represents only a Citizen Accused, whereas the General represents an entire State.

Along these same lines, even the term “defense” does not sound very likeable. The whole idea of being defensive comes across to most people as suspicious. So to prevent the jury from being unfairly misled by this ancient English terminology, the opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself “the Resistance.”

* * *

WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate.

Searching for a copy of the motion brought me to Lowering the Bar, which also has a collection of humorous pleadings, court orders, comical case names, and the case law hall of fame.

Myrtle Beach Police Department Minimalism

For some time now, Myrtle Beach Police Department has made their incident reports available to the public on their website, which was convenient considering their routine refusal to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests – incident reports are subject to FOIA and must be made available upon request of any citizen.

Following the publication of Officer William Heine’s detailed report of a fight in Myrtle Beach by the Smoking Gun, Gawker, and other media, Myrtle Beach has stopped posting their incident reports online (at least temporarily, I am not aware of any official announcement as to the reason the reports are no longer available).  The officer charged two women with disorderly conduct for fighting, and the complete narrative of the report reads:

Both share a baby daddy. They locked horns like bulls on the stairs to the Aquarius.

The Aquarius is a local motel, by the way.  I do respect the artistic value of the report – in 16 words the officer tells a brief but compelling story.  It is intriguing.  It is poetic.  There is a rich back-story and history that is implied but not spoken – the imagination easily fills in the rest of the story.  The problem, of course, is that this is not poetry – this is the complete narrative in an incident report following the arrest of two women who may or may not have defenses to what they were charged with.  Who will be marked with criminal records if they are convicted of the offense.

Officers are taught at the police academy the importance of writing competent incident reports, so prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and others who become involved in the case will know what the officer’s observations were.  So that when the officer comes to court a year or more later for the trial of the case, the officer will be able to refer to the report and remember what happened on the date of the incident – officers can’t be expected to remember every detail of every incident months and often years after the incident, and they often have only their reports to refer to prior to or during their testimony in court.  Often, if it is not in the report, it didn’t happen.

The sad thing is that this incident report is typical of Myrtle Beach police reports written by patrol officers.  It is also sad if the city’s response to the publicity is to stop publishing their reports, as opposed to training their officers and requiring professionalism in officers’ investigation and report writing.

(According to the Horry County Public Index, Eisman pled guilty to time served, but Zarko’s charges are still pending as of today.)

Trial Chicken – a day in the life

Last week was a term of court for Horry County Central Jury Court – on Thursday, six cases were dismissed that morning; cases where we would not accept pre-trial diversion or a plea, and insisted on a trial that morning.  Two officers took us up on our offer to try their cases.  One dismissed at the very last minute before jury selection.  The other picked a jury, started trial, gave an opening statement, took the stand, learned the hard way that you can’t prove a drug case without a chemist, and dismissed in the middle of trial.

Thanks again to Public Defender Revolution, for giving a name to “trial chicken” (and for this visual):

 

Local judge has sex with prosecutor in courtroom . . . caught on video

Just kidding.

I’m bored.  The blawgosphere has become increasingly boring over the past year or so.  I have about 30 blogs on my blog reader, and I used to read them avidly, daily, because about 1 in 3 would have something interesting to say; now I skim though them each morning and rarely read a blog post with interest.  Is it just me?  Are the authors bored and just hanging in there, typing something, anything just to keep it going after so many years of humdrum existence?  Is it because the content is inevitably recycled after the first few years?

Lately I don’t get very many link backs to my blog.  I used to.  I loved the attention; it’s always nice to feel like you have something to contribute and people are paying attention.  It doesn’t really matter lately, I am bored with it anyway.  I assume that other bloggers think that I’ve become boring just as they’ve become boring, so a few may skim my blog like I do theirs or more likely they’ve just stopped reading it completely.  When someone puts up a blog post on a topic that I wrote about first, and I don’t get a link back or a hat/tip, I assume they are not being rude, it’s just that they just don’t read my blog anymore.

How do you keep a blog about the law interesting?  I’m not sure.  The one thing I want to blog about, share with other attorneys, and get feedback on, is trial practice.  But those articles take a lot of time, thought, and research to write.  Time is a scarce commodity when you also run a busy law practice.  And, unfortunately, I don’t get the feedback I had hoped for.  My original hope for the trial theory blog, that it would be a cooperative effort among lawyers who were motivated to share and experiment with creative ideas on trial theory, never materialized.  It was a failed experiment.  That’s ok – the best place for the laboratory is in the courtroom and in person in workshops in our offices anyway, but I regret not having the public forum to share and continue our ideas on a blog.

The second most important thing for me in the blog is to read, analyze, and write about appellate criminal law opinions – again, time consuming and it takes some real effort to get it done.  When I write about an appellate opinion, it stays with me and I remember it, when I’m in the courtroom, when I’m discussing cases with attorneys, and when I’m working on my own cases.  When I need a case cite, often I need only pull up trial theory in the courtroom on the iphone or ipad, because I recall that I wrote about the issue at some point.  But – boring.  Useful for me, but probably selfish because most people don’t want to read canned briefs on a blog.

I typically don’t write about everyday people who get arrested – I don’t see any value in it and it’s not the least bit interesting.  This is the format of choice for the thousands of marketing blogs that are appearing, dying, and reappearing everywhere, often with ghost writers on a Third grade writing level – XXXXX was arrested yesterday and charged with XXXX, look at this article.  The elements of what he was charged with are XXXX and XXXX.  He needs a very good criminal lawyer.  If you need a very good criminal lawyer, you should call the Law Offices of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe NOW at XXXXX.  We Can Help.  Lawyers are told this is how they can get cases – I am skeptical, since I know some of these lawyers and they don’t seem to have many clients, but more power to them.

I do write about people in power who are arrested – police, prosecutors, politicians, defense lawyers.  They need to be held accountable, and the public needs to know.  When police are accused of misconduct, the defense lawyers and prosecutors who are handling that police officer’s cases need to know.  It’s not advertising, and I’m not interested in representing those people – I’ve never had one call me after blogging about them and, if they did, it would likely take a very persuasive story along with a bombshell for me to accept their case; I have an aversion to those who abuse power and I am probably not the right lawyer to help them.  This may be boring also, I don’t know, but I do get emails thanking me for writing these stories, which is encouraging.

The easiest thing to do is to just pull up the blogging platform and start hammering out my random thoughts – I’m cautious about this, because once I start there is no telling what will come spilling out.  A few bloggers have gradually turned towards this style of writing, and, well, it hasn’t always made their material more interesting.  Sorry.  (If you are reading this and you think I’m talking about you, I’m not.  Seriously.  I’m talking about that other guy.  Don’t take it personally, I love your blog.  Really.)

The problem with this style of blogging, as I’ve experienced it, anyway, is the tension between saying what you want to say and maintaining professionalism.  Lawyers, judges, clients, and potential clients may be reading your blog and you don’t want to broadcast the impression that you are not the epitome of professionalism.  So you have the urge to stick to commentary on news articles and the analysis of important cases.  Safe as houses.

Just for the record, if anyone, lawyer, judge, client, or potential client is curious, I am not the epitome of professionalism.  I don’t wear a coat and tie to my office every day.  I am not conservative.  I am not orthodox.  Like the typical teenager, I have a problem with authority.  I expect my office staff to work hard, care deeply about our clients, be part of a team and do their part to help us win, and to have at least one tattoo or body piercing. One of our paralegals has pink highlights and I love it.

Anyway, if you’re bored too, and you’ve actually read this post to the end, please do me a favor.  Write something interesting.  Entertain me a little.  Write about something other than the most recent nationwide hot topic that every “expert” is analyzing on CNN or FoxNews.  Write about the actual practice of law?  If you’re not a blogger, let me know what you think is interesting and what lawyers care about.  I’m curious.

 

Mexico … Pork … Cloud … Team

Words to avoid online – the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted a list of key words used by Department of Homeland Security to monitor online speech; obtained through a lawsuit after DHS refused to release the information pursuant to a FOIA request:

The intriguing list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The Department was then forced to release the 2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder following a House hearing on the documents that were obtained in the lawsuit; which includes instruction to identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities.”  The dailymail article linked to implies that DHS is expressly instructing employees to monitor dissent and criticism of the government – but I think the Binder makes it clear that one of the goals is to create a spin machine.  They want to know when bad things happen, and they want to know when people are talking trash about them so they can get ahead of them in the media.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t targeting dissent and criticism of the government, they just aren’t being as open about it as the dailymail article implies.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.

However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.

What not to say on the internet:

 List1

 

 

It’s a great day in South Carolina!

I laughed, and then scratched my head in confusion, last November when someone forwarded me this bill that was introduced to the legislature:

SECTION    1.    Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Article 27
State Agency and Department Telephone Greeting
Section 1-1-1710.    No state agency, department, institution, or entity may be required to use a telephone greeting of ‘it’s a great day in South Carolina’ or another similar greeting connoting the advantages of or a general pleasant demeanor in this State so long as any of the following conditions apply:

(1)    the state’s unemployment rate equals or exceeds five percent;

(2)    all citizens of this State do not have health insurance;

(3)    state school funding for grades K-12 and for higher education is not sufficient to ensure that all students are prepared for the twenty-first century; or

(4)    the rural infrastructure of this State is not adequate to allow rural areas to compete for new business and industry on an equal basis with urban areas of this State.”

Honestly, I didn’t know that any state agency had been required by law to say “It’s a great day in South Carolina” when they answered the phones.  Sounds like a pretty stupid law.  And, we were all wondering if our legislatures had nothing better to do than come up with witty, snarky, meaningless and useless bills.

But, last week I called the Horry County Probation Department and was greeted with “It’s a great day in South Carolina!  How can I help you?”  I started to laugh, then I paused for an awkward moment of silence before asking to speak with my client’s probation officer.  I’m guessing the above amendment never passed.

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