Thursday, August 15, 2013

Remembering "To Kill a Mockingbird"

53 years ago, on July 11, 1960, Harper Lee’s classic novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" was released.  This wonderful book highlights the racial inequalities in the U.S. justice system of the first half of the 20th century.  Since that time, America has made great strides forward, but our system is still not perfect.  Because of these issues, it is important to have an attorney by your side when negotiating the American legal system.  In many parts of our country, minorities and people of limited financial means are routinely given the short end of the stick when it comes to accessing justice.  Here at the Cockrell Law Firm, we are committed to looking out for the little guy, just like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Whether it be criminal charges, discrimination, or even a personal injury matter, we are ready and willing to fight for you.  No matter what your legal issue, we want to help you so you are not taken advantage of.  Give the attorneys at Cockrell Law Firm a call today and we will fight for you.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Abuse of Ex Parte Emergency Orders in Family Court

It happens far more often than it should.  Family law attorneys approach judges in anticipation of filing an action in the family court and obtain “emergency” ex parte temporary orders that tend to be very self-serving for their client (and by self-serving I mean incredibly biased and totally one sided).  The funny thing is- once these orders are issued a hearing on the merits of these “emergency” issues never get scheduled.  

Ultimately, this far too often scenario leaves defendants on the receiving end of those orders without proper recourse.  

So, what do you need to know about the court rules governing this abuse? That there is something to be done. 

Rule 65(b) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure direct that any such temporary restraining order (TRO) that is issued without notice (i.e. ex parte) will expire within 10 days by its own terms if a hearing is not set down by the party seeking the TRO.  What does this mean? Well, it means two things: 

1) Under Rule 65(b), a TRO is not issued properly if it is lacking the hour at which it is issued and if it does not,there must be language in the order stating that the TRO expires within 10 days of the hour it was issued if a hearing on the merits is not set down or if the party seeking the TRO does not demonstrate good cause as to why it should be extended past the original 10 days (with the exception that the party that TRO is against may agree to an extension of the order).  

2) If the TRO is issued properly, containing all of the necessary language as discussed above, if the party seeking the TRO does not set down a hearing within 10 days of the issuance of the order, the order must expire as a matter of law.  Thus illustrating the importance of language within the order that it will expire if a hearing is not held and thus, a more permanent (and less biased) order is not issued.  

In fact, in Zabinski v. Bright Acres Associates ,346 S.C. 580, 553 S.E.2d 110 (2001) Chief Justice Toal, writing for the South Carolina Supreme Court, expressed the importance of holding a hearing on the merits of a TRO within ten days of its issuance.  In fact, the issued opinion states that in that matter, because since a hearing was not held within ten days the TRO had expired as a matter of law (emphasis added).  

A party aggrieved by such an ex-parte order should consider an immediate request for an expedited hearing on the order, asking that the court deem it expired as a matter of law, or seeking supersedeas with the South Carolina Court of Appeals, as such orders are immediately reviewable. See Rule 241(d)(1), SCACR. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Why you need an attorney to negotiate your Automobile Accident claim.

When you have been involved in an automobile accident, you are often injured, confused, and don’t know what to do.  The attorneys here at Cockrell Law Firm are here to help you.  Many times the insurance adjusters will contact you soon after the wreck and try to get you to settle the case with them quickly on your own.  The problem is, the insurance companies never offer you the full amount that they have available and are just hoping you will take the quick money so they can get out of the case cheap.  Often times you will leave thousands of dollars in the insurance company’s pockets that you are entitled to.  Although it may take a little longer, you need someone who can wear down the insurance company and knows how to deal with the games the adjusters sometimes play to discourage you. You need an experienced and aggressive lawyer on your side to make sure you get compensated for every dollar you are owed.  Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of you if you are ever involved in an accident.  Contrary to what they may say, you are not always in good hands when you are dealing with them.  If you are involved in an auto accident call the attorneys at Cockrell Law Firm who are dedicated to fighting for you!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Your Right to Counsel

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Gideon V. Wainwright.  In this landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to require State Courts to provide indigent defendants with counsel in criminal cases.  Prior to this decision, some states did provide attorneys to poor defendants, but there no legal requirement to do so.    Since the decision in Gideon, all states are responsible with providing legal counsel to all people charged with a crime.  Having an attorney represent you when you are charged with a crime is best way to insure that your rights are protected.  If you can hire your own attorney, you need to do so as soon as possible after being charged with a crime.  Here at the Cockrell Law Firm, we represent people charged with crimes of all levels in South Carolina.  We are experienced and well versed in criminal law and procedure, and represent people in municipal, magistrate, state and federal courts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mixing Alcohol with Diet Sodas may increase your Blood Alcohol Level

A recent study detailed in a story by NPR has determined that mixing alcohol with diet sodas, as opposed to regular soda, may lead to a higher blood alcohol level.  This appears to be due to the sugar in the regular sodas slowing the absorption rate of the alcohol into your bloodstream.  This could lead to serious impacts if you are ever arrested for Driving Under the Influence in South Carolina.  Please keep in mind that it is never advised to drink and drive, but if you find yourself facing DUI charges in South Carolina, it is important to make sure you contact a lawyer who can help fight the charges, using the latest scientific studies and legal arguments.  If you are arrested for DUI in South Carolina, the attorneys at the Cockrell Law Firm are only a phone call away and are ready to fight for you.

Monday, February 4, 2013


In many of the criminal cases we handle, the only evidence that directly ties the defendant to the alleged crime is his statement or confession.  Contrary to what many people think, crime scenes are not always full of evidence that can link a particular person to the crime.  This is why law enforcement will generate a list of potential suspects and intensely question each one to see if one of them will confess.  If you are a suspect and brought in for questioning by law enforcement, it is important to remember your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.  If you are not under arrest, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions.  If you are under arrest, it is important to ask for a lawyer immediately and to not answer any other questions or volunteer any other information until you speak with an attorney.  Many times law enforcement will tell you that if you just tell them what they want to hear, they will help you out, perhaps by getting you a low bond or a lenient sentence.  You need to remember that they are not on your side, they are the one trying to pin a crime on you!  At the Cockrell Law Firm, we handle all types of criminal cases, and are always available to meet your needs.  If you have been accused of a crime and are asked to come in for questioning, contact the Cockrell Law Firm as soon as possible.  As the old saying goes, “Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if they just kept their mouth shut.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Right to Bear Arms

In the wake of the recent mass shootings, gun laws and the right to self defense have become hot topics of conversation in the recent weeks.  

In South Carolina, it is unlawful for citizens to carry a handgun on a day to day bases*, whether concealed or not EXCEPT:

  1. licensed hunters or fishermen engaged in hunting or fishing or going to or from their places of hunting or fishing (in a vehicle or on foot);
  2. in your home or on your real property or with permission of the property owner;
  3. in your vehicle so long as it is in a closed glove compartment, console, trunk, or other closed container with a secure fastener and placed in the luggage compartment;
  4. if the gun is an unloaded handgun in a secure wrapper being carried from the place of purchase toyour home or business or being carried from your home or business to a relocated home or business; 
  5. if you are moving a handgun from or to a vehicle and a location where one may legally possess the handgun; 
  6. on a motorcycle so long as the handgun is secured in a closed saddlebag or other similar closed accessory container attached to the motorcycle.

Violation of these regulations (found at SC Code of Laws § 16-23-20) is guilty of a felony and if convicted can be fined up to $2,000.00 and/or imprisoned for up to five years. 

(*Other exceptions apply to law enforcement, authorized handgun dealers, members of the armed forces, etc.)