Estate planning

South Carolina probate scandal: Lawyers and judges still blame each other


The conflict over transparency within the probate and probate court system in South Carolina appears to have been resolved following the introduction of our news outlet a report Earlier this month he drew attention to the problem. The battle for transparency is tied to an ongoing case involving a large estate in Florence County — a case that has sparked renewed scrutiny of the entire probate court system in the Palmetto State.

Probate courts oversee the estates and assets of people who have passed away. They are charged with ensuring that all creditors get their due – and that the assets of these estates are properly divided among the appropriate beneficiaries.

How does probate court work within South Carolina’s infamous “injustice” system? Not very fair… not very publicly, it seems. And that’s troubling… especially given the billions of dollars that flow through this system every year.

essence the story Our first exposure? Questionable decisions made by the probate court system in relation to former clients of Gary Crawford, Florence estate planning attorney. Crawford committed suicide on March 19, 2023, by shooting himself in the head in his car, which was parked outside his law firm.

What motivated Crawford to commit suicide remains a mystery… unlike the files he left behind in the aftermath of his death.

According to a lawyer representing Darlington County probate judge Marvin Lawson – who presided over several Crawford cases – court transcripts of one of the most controversial cases he has dealt with Do Exists, and will eventually be made available to lawyers.



Transcripts of these hearings – which were held on October 12, 2022 and November 14, 2022 – remained in limbo for eight months after Lawson’s dismissal Bradley Hanna And Craig Hannah of their roles in connection with their mother’s estate, Georgia “Joe” Hannah. Joe Hanna is a widow Carlos m. HannaFounder and Principal Owner of a Successful Cleaning and Sanitation Company in Florence, South Carolina, Coastal health supplies. Carlos Hanna passed away on December 14, 2010, leaving behind a large estate for his family.

The disposal of Hanna’s property sparked controversy, confusion, and questions about the actions of the officials charged with supervising it. These questions, in turn, overshadowed the entire system of commandments.

Bradley Hannah was originally appointed guardian of his mother’s estate, while his brother Craig was appointed guardian of her. In their places, Lawson was appointed Darlington County Treasurer, Jeff Robinsonas Joe Hanna’s guardian and other elected politician and state representative Cody Mitchellas her guardian.

The moves sparked a backlash after the Columbia-based lawyer Tucker player – who is representing Craig Hannah – has claimed that a judge made an “unconstitutional and unlawful order” on April 18, 2023 relating to the sale of some of Joe Hannah’s property, a stately brick home in Florence located on a pretty tree-lined street in a prestigious area. alive (.pdf).

The sale of the home—one of Joe Hannah’s last remaining assets—was part of the appraised amount $20 million In transfers from the estate that Carlos Hanna left behind. According to Blair, the sale was carried out “without providing any notice or opportunity to be heard” to the parties involved in the proceeding. Which seems to have been the point. A character is attached to the player’s movement (.jpg) from Charles Epoch Attorney with Haynesworth Sinclair Boyd Law Firm – Asking Lawson to make his writ “without notice, as permitted under the probate court of the State of South Carolina.”

Attorney residing in Colombia Disa Ballard — which Lawson retained — Blair notified on August 18, 2023 that she had tracked transcripts of these hearings on behalf of her client, the judge. Ballard — whose practice focuses on professional ethics, professional licensing issues, attorneys’ grievances, litigation and appeals — said a special court reporter was assigned to transcribe the hearings. During the session, an agreement was reached between the lawyers Mike Souter — who previously represented Craig Hannah — and Kevin Barthwho represented Bradley Hannah, to split the costs of the appearance fee and the hours spent at the four-day hearing.

Kevin Barth (available)

While Souter ordered scripts and paid his share on January 12, 2023, Barth never paid for his half.

While the mystery of the text appears to have been solved, it remains unclear why the former Supreme Court Circuit Court judge (and former state legislator) J Michael Baxley decided to Enter the same In this novel earlier this month. After Sutter received no response (or transcript) after his request, the documents were requested again by Craig Hannah’s new attorney on August 4, 2023 — with a 10-day time frame for them to be produced. In the absence of this, the player indicated that he would file a formal request to compel them to submit their offer to the court.

Instead of receiving the texts on August 14, 2023, Hannah’s attorney received a curt email from Baxley.

“The court administration does not fund court reporters for the Estate and Inheritance Court; therefore, which transcript of a hearing is requested is a matter to be dealt with between counsel and the independent court reporter,” Baxley wrote to Player. “We trust you are aware that the transcript of each hearing is A listening that is not automatically generated and placed on record in any will file.”

It may have been because the ex-lawyer (Sutter) did not seem to have obtained a duplicate as required, assuming the letter had been neatly mailed with enough postage attached, and then delivered by the Post Office (which did not contain “Your letter (sic) on any evidence of it), was “the original application making no offer of payment or a request for an estimated cost, terms of payment, or method of payment,” Baxley continued. “These type arrangements are standard with any text application.”

As Lawson’s attorney, Bradley Hannah’s former attorney, noted in her response Have submitted a formal application and payment. The delay in producing the text was in fact caused by the opposing party.

Rather than inform Craig Hannah’s lawyers of the reason for the delay – or suggest who they need to speak with to resolve the issue – the court ignored their request and appears to have commissioned a retired judge to send a letter proposing they The problem was.


Related | Probate issues ‘as old as time’


It is not known why Kevin Barth – who represents Craig Hannah’s brother Bradley – failed to live up to his commitment to the agreement in relation to the scripts. It is also not known whether Judge Lawson informed Baxley that Craig Hanna’s lawyers knew of this I ordered and paid for the scripts before sending them an email accusing them of “misplaced resentment, based on an inaccurate basis”.

Meanwhile, after Jo Hana’s will case was transferred to Horie County, a hearing was held. finally scheduled for September 21, 2021 to determine who will be her parent and guardian. This is the first step in determining whether the court has properly dealt with the assets associated with her late husband’s estate.

Why does this matter? Because as we reported earlier, so is South Carolina full of allegations From fraud and abuse probate court. As noted, Billions of dollars are at stake in these cases.

“This news outlet will explore the reforms that experts say are needed to protect those most vulnerable to victims…and provide insight into probate court processes to help our audience understand how best to protect themselves and their loved ones,” I noted in a recent story. And take back some of those allegations.

Count on us to continue to do so. As we continue to dig into those allegations and other cases we find within the South Carolina court system – I’d like to remind everyone reading this article that FITSNews has an open microphone policy that encourages any individuals mentioned in our reports to address our audience directly.


About the author…

Jane Wood (available)

Jane Wood He is the unparalleled Director of Research at FITSNews. She is also the producer of FitFiles and Cheer Incorporated Podcasts and a leading expert on all things justice in Marado/South Carolina. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, bad guys beware, Jane Wood is far from your average journalist! This is an in-depth researcher with a passion for the truth and a heart for victims The mother of two is pretty much a superhero in the country of FITSNews. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky man!) Do you have a story idea or advice for Jane? Email her at (email protected).


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