Judge blocks victim, witness, public from ‘Final Disrespects’ judge’s felony charge court hearing
BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WJZY) – Tammy Bullock walked into the Marlboro County jail Thursday morning in handcuffs and flanked by two Bennettsville Law enforcement investigators. As soon as inside, Bullock was let into the jail’s booking region.
We could see into the scheduling area by way of home windows inside the jail’s sally port.
Bullock appeared to joke with jailers as they organized her scheduling sheets and took her mugshots. A person jailer, whose uniform recognized her as D. Bostic, a 1st Sergeant, pretended to jokingly smack Bullock’s hand as Bullock and the jailers appeared to be laughing alongside one another as Bostic rolled Bullock’s fingers by the black ink.
Jailers had Bullock take her shoes off and handed her a pair of jail slippers. The jailer put Bullock’s footwear into a black bag. We viewed the whole scheduling process from a general public region outside the house the jailhouse. We viewed till Bullock was walked out of the scheduling region and into one more aspect of the jail. We in no way noticed Bullock modify out of her street outfits to place on a jail-issued uniform in advance of remaining walked out of the scheduling space and into another section of the jail.
Bullock was arrested Thursday morning following a choose issued Bennettsville law enforcement a warrant charging Bullock with pointing and presenting a firearm, a felony less than South Carolina’s prison code. The charge stems from a Feb. 3 argument between Bullock and her then-roommate, Shanda Nash.
Nash referred to as law enforcement to report Bullock stood over her and pointed a gun in her deal with during the argument inside of their Bennettsville property. “I’ll f—ing shoot you Shanda,” Nash quoted Bullock indicating to her as she lay on her back wanting up at Bullock’s handgun. Bennettsville law enforcement billed Bullock with a misdemeanor depend of pointing and presenting a handgun.
After a FOX 46 investigation into how the office billed Bullock, Chief Kevin Miller questioned the city’s legal professional to assessment the scenario and how Bullock was billed. Miller also questioned the State Law Enforcement Division to examine his department’s managing of the circumstance.
Bullock’s bond listening to was set for some time between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Thursday. We only know that mainly because Nash claimed she bought a connect with from 1st Sergeant Bostic all-around 7:50 a.m. to inform her about the bond hearing.
Nash straight away left her household and drove to the jail. A jailer who answered the intercom outside the public accessibility door informed Nash and her daughter, who was a witness in the circumstance, to wait in their vehicle until finally they are called by the judge.
All around 8:33 a.m., Bostic opened the public obtain door and shouted for “The victim.” Nash and her daughter walked to the doorway and Bostic would not enable Nash’s daughter into the courtroom. A couple minutes later on, Nash walked out of the doorway to say Choose Larry Rogers advised her he was setting Bullock’s bond at $5,000 and buying Bullock to have no call with Nash, either “director or oblique,” Nash explained the decide explained to her as a result of a window in the jail.
Nash explained the judge ended the dialogue with her and she was escorted out of the jail door. Nash, nor her daughter, had been allowed into the bond listening to, which is a court continuing open to any person in the general public. A few minutes later on, jailers summoned Bullock’s lawyer into the courtroom and locked the public door behind him.
FOX 46 Main Investigator Jody Barr asked to be enable into the bond listening to, as nicely. Barr questioned jailers to let the judge know our crew was outside the house waiting around to be permit in to look at the listening to. Marlboro County jail Warden Kevin Thomas walked out the public obtain door to convey to Barr neither the judge nor the jail would permit any person into the listening to.
Here’s the transcript of that discussion:
WARDEN: “Are you with the news media?”
BARR: “Yes, sir.”
WARDEN: “The motive we’re not allowing you in is for the reason that of COVID. So which is the purpose why we’re limiting it to our people in the jail at this time, ok?”
BARR: “What’s the judge’s identify?”
WARDEN: “What’s the judge’s title?”
BARR: “The choose who manufactured the – since I’m heading to phone the Supreme Court and file a grievance.”
WARDEN: “File a complaint on what?”
BARR: “You can not just they simply cannot disallow individuals into a community courtroom and observe the proceedings in a courtroom.”
WARDEN: “Okay, very well, I’ll permit him (Judge Rogers) chat to you.”
Rogers by no means spoke with FOX 46. Around an intercom discussion with the jail, Barr was informed Judge Rogers didn’t “Have time” to explore Bullock’s hearing or the results of his bond setting.
A look for of the South Carolina Bar’s associates directory does not demonstrate Rogers holds a law degree or is a member of the state bar.
SUPREME Court docket Grievance
In spite of the Marlboro County jail warden’s assertion the jail’s courtrooms are shut mainly because of the pandemic, the South Carolina Supreme Court’s world-wide-web website shows Marlboro County bond courts are running in a “Normal,” standing.
Only the Marlboro County Probate Courtroom and the Municipal Court docket are working underneath a “Limited” position. Bullock’s listening to was held in a bond courtroom.
We could not attain Judge Rogers on Thursday. We submitted a grievance with the point out Supreme Court’s Business office of Disciplinary Counsel to have Rogers’ selection to block the sufferer, the witness, and the community from Bullock’s courtroom visual appeal investigated by the court’s investigative device.
The criticism was filed on Nov. 4. We educated Rogers, by email, of the grievance and available the decide the possibility to deliver a response and rationalization as to why he blocked community obtain to Bullock’s listening to.
Decide Rogers did not reply to our request.
“Article I, Sec. 9 of the SC Structure demands all courts to be open except if there has been a listening to in which a bash moving to close a court proceeding demonstrates that closure is necessary to guard a better governmental desire and closure is the only strategy out there to shield that curiosity,” South Carolina First Amendment attorney Jay Bender advised FOX 46.
Bender has practiced media legislation in South Carolina for practically 50 several years and is widely regarded as the state’s lawful professional on the state’s Freedom of Details Act.
Bender claimed simply because of Rogers’ actions “the public was excluded from the bond hearing illegally.”
“Open courts are our ensure that justice will be administered relatively,” Bender advised Barr, “Secret courts invite abuse.”
SC SUPREME Court docket: Structure ‘Guarantees’ open courts
The public’s – and media outlets’ – rights to attend courtroom hearings was the subject of a 2006 South Carolina Supreme Courtroom order in a situation wherever Greenville-area news retailers were being locked out of court proceedings in a loss of life penalty demo in 2003 above a judge’s problems about pre-demo publicity.
This case, “…lays it out really obviously,” Bender explained to FOX 46 of how the state Structure deems all courtrooms in the state open to everyone who wishes in.
Circuit Court Judge Buddy Nicholson, Jr. would not enable reporters into a pre-trial proof suppression listening to in the murder demo of Charles Christopher Williams. Williams was to begin with billed with assault and battery with intent to eliminate right after he assaulted a female as she still left her grocery shop career in Greenville, in accordance to the Supreme Court’s 2006 buy.
Williams obtained out on bond and went back again to the grocery retailer with a shotgun and held the victim hostage in an hours-extended standoff with police. When law enforcement “stormed” the retail outlet they observed the sufferer lifeless, shot 4 moments with a shotgun.
The SC Supreme Courtroom found the decide in the 2003 demo experienced no correct to shut the courtroom to the community. The court also discovered the judge labored to go the situation out of town to lower media coverage. The demo court docket held most of the pre-demo proceedings in Anderson (South Carolina) in hopes that the media would not go to,” the 2006 order said.
“The rights of the public and the push to show up at prison trials are assured by the South Carolina Constitution and the United States Structure,” former South Carolina Supreme Court docket Justice Jean Toal wrote in the court’s order. Toal was joined by 4 other justices in the selection.
The Supreme Courtroom reminded South Carolina judges closing courtrooms can only be done below stringent situations and not simply because of a judge’s considerations around the publicity of a unique circumstance, “Additionally, we just take this opportunity to reiterate that jury voir dire is the favored and generally recognized tool that protects a defendant from the prejudicial effects of pre-trial publicity,” Toal wrote.
In the Greenville circumstance, the justices wrote that Decide Nicholson “applied the right lawful standard” in his conclusion to shut the courtroom, but that he was not justified in accomplishing so and the courtroom reversed Nicholson’s final decision to shut the courtroom.
The examination for closing a courtroom is “a considerable likelihood of prejudice from publicity that closure would avoid and [that] there is no sensible options,” to preventing damage for a defendant’s appropriate to a honest trial the court docket wrote in the 2006 impression.
We have asked Judge Rogers for comment, but as of the posting of this report, Rogers has not responded.