Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court

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Melissa Spalt was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. When she refused to submit to a breath test, the arresting officer issued a "notice of suspension" of her driver's license. Spalt requested a hearing before the South Carolina Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH) to challenge her suspension, as permitted by subsection 56-5-2951(B)(2). The OMVH scheduled a hearing for June 23, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. On June 18, Spalt's attorney notified the OMVH he was scheduled to be in court at the time of the new OMVH hearing. Spalt's attorney emailed the agency and hearing officer multiple times to reschedule the hearing; there was no indication in the record that the OMVH hearing officer responded to the attorney's last emails. At the time of the hearing, Spalt's attorney did not appear. The hearing officer entered an "Order of Dismissal", finding "Neither [Spalt] nor her counsel appeared at the hearing and therefore waived the right to challenge the pending suspension." The hearing officer did not conduct a hearing on the merits of the suspension. Spalt appealed to the ALC, which reversed and remanded to the OMVH for a hearing on the merits. The Department of Motor Vehicles appealed the ALC's order to the court of appeals, which dismissed the appeal on the basis the ALC's order was not immediately appealable. The Department appealed again to the South Carolina Supreme Court, but finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals. View "Spalt v. South Carolina Dept. Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law

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Appellants, who are current and former certified educators employed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) in the Palmetto Unified School District (PUSD), collectively appealed the Administrative Law Court's (ALC's) order that affirmed the State Employee Grievance Committee's decision denying their grievances regarding the SCDC's Reduction-in-Force (RIF) implemented in 2003. On appeal, Appellants contended the ALC erred in failing to enforce: (1) the plain language of the RIF policy; (2) the controlling legislation applicable to the PUSD and the RIF policy; (3) Appellants' constitutional rights with respect to employment; and (4) Appellants' rights as "covered employees" with respect to the RIF policy. Based on these alleged errors, Appellants asserted they were entitled to reinstatement to employment as well as back pay and benefits. Because the RIF was deemed "procedurally correct," the Supreme Court concluded the ALC correctly affirmed the Committee's decision regarding the inclusion of the PUSD in the RIF. However the Court concluded that the SCDC violated statutory law in precluding Appellants from exercising their priority right to recall as to the positions vacated by retirees. Because the "Retirement Opportunity" offered by the SCDC required a fifteen-day break in service before rehiring, the Court found that "window" constituted a vacancy for which Appellants should have been offered the opportunity for employment. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded this case to the Committee to determine the appropriate relief. View "Bell v. SCDC" on Justia Law