Can I Meet With The Judge?
First, I would like to express to you my sincere sympathy in the loss of your loved one. As a former funeral director, I realize the many responsibilities placed on those "left behind" in this trying time. My staff and I are here to assist you and we will make sure your experience here will be as simple and painless as possible.
"I voted for you and now I need your help. Can I meet with you about my case?" I hear that quite often and many times I am not able to discuss your case with you. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why.
The Canons of Judicial Ethics govern how Judges preside over cases. One of the canons is the following:
"A Judge shall not initiate, permit or consider... communications made to the Judge outside the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impending proceeding..."
As such, I am not allowed to communicate with anyone individually about a pending case or about a matter that could be a case to be heard in my court. This is to ensure fairness and impartiality to all involved. Therefore, if you are not able to meet with me, it is because I am to remain impartial without any outside influences whatsoever. Everyone involved has a right to a fair and impartial hearing.
In closing, my staff and I cannot give legal advice. However, often times we may encourage clients to seek the advice of an attorney. There are many attorneys in our area that practice probate law. Your attorney can intercede for you and you alone. He or she can explain to you the legal remedies that are available. If you need help choosing an attorney, you can call the South Carolina Bar Attorney Referral Service at 1-800-868-2284 or go to www.scbar.org. If you are unable to afford an attorney, you can call the South Carolina Bar's Pro Bono Program at 1-888-346-5592 to see if you qualify for legal assistance at a free or reduced rate.
Again, my staff and I are here to serve you. Thank you for your kind support and understanding.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth E. Johns, Jr.
Probate Judge of Oconee County