December 2019 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER / December 2019

South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) is a non-profit law firm. We provide free legal services in a wide variety of civil (non-criminal) legal matters to eligible low income residents of South Carolina. Our mission is to provide legal services to protect the rights and represent the interests of low income South Carolinians.

Every Child Deserves A Family

In a modern world that is focused on negativity and dividing people based on their appearance and beliefs, we often forget about the simple traits that make us all human. No matter how big our differences may be, we all crave the same things: human connection and the love of a family. Unfortunately, some children do not get to experience this love because they do not have a family. President Trump recently proclaimed the month of November as National Adoption Month – a time in which we can all raise awareness about the value of giving someone a family. This is a story of George and Rose.


Tenants’ Rights To Heat and Hot Water

During the winter months, lack of heat or hot water can become life-threatening conditions. This can be an especially big problem if you are disabled or have small children.  The South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Act) gives special protections to tenants when heat or hot water is not being provided in their units.


Beware of Social Security Fraud

Scams involving callers pretending to be from Social Security Administration (SSA) asking for cash or gift card payments, have increased in the last year to become the most common type of fraud. In an effort to address this ongoing problem, the SSA has created an online form at for people to report suspected fraud.


Honoring Legal Aid Pioneers

After devoting decades of his life to legal aid and South Carolina Legal Services, J. Edwin “Eddie” McDonnell is retiring at the end of this year. Throughout his legal career, he served legal aid in a number of different roles – attorney, board member, executive director, and managing attorney of the Spartanburg and Rock Hill offices. Currently, Eddie has the position of Director of Litigation and Training with South Carolina Legal Services.

Edna Smith Primus passed away on November 29. She retired from SCLS in 2006. Edna devoted her legal career to the concept of community lawyering. In 1972, Edna was the first African-American woman to graduate from University of South Carolina School of Law. Edna fought, and ultimately prevailed, in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that reaffirmed the first amendment rights of public interest attorneys everywhere.

In honor of Eddie and Edna and their services to the public interest work, Nelson Mullins made a donation to SCLS in their names. George Cauthen, a Nelson Mullins attorney and SCLS Board Member, wrote a wonderful letter about them. Also included, a link to Edna’s oral argument in her landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case, In re Primus.



Victory For Client

We would like to brag about a huge victory that our attorneys got for one of our clients. This client was referred to us by Family Promise – a faith-based organization that helps the homeless community.

Client was terminated from her job and while her unemployment benefits claim was pending, she became homeless. She didn’t get notified of her telephone hearing until just before the hearing. Because she didn’t have a phone, she borrowed someone else’s. After the hearing started but before client was able to tell her story, the owner of the phone demanded it back. The hearing officer refused to reschedule the hearing, and ultimately, denied client her unemployment benefits.

We appealed. The Judge ruled in our client’s favor. The judge found that our client was denied a reasonable opportunity to be heard. Given the circumstances and client’s homeless status, she should’ve been afforded more consideration for a fair hearing.