Judge blocks victim, witness, public from ‘Final Disrespects’ judge’s felony charge court hearing

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BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WJZY) – Tammy Bullock walked into the Marlboro County jail Thursday early morning in handcuffs and flanked by two Bennettsville Law enforcement investigators. As soon as inside of, Bullock was let into the jail’s booking spot.

We could see into the reserving place by way of windows inside the jail’s sally port.

Former Marlboro County Deputy Probate Judge Tammy Bullock and a Marlboro County jailer share a laugh although Bullock was fingerprinted within the jail’s reserving spot on Nov. 4, 2021. (WJZY Picture/Trevor Beck)

Bullock appeared to joke with jailers as they ready her booking sheets and took her mugshots. One 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 via the black ink.

Jailers had Bullock acquire her sneakers off and handed her a pair of jail slippers. The jailer positioned Bullock’s footwear into a black bag. We viewed the entire scheduling course of action from a general public space outdoors the jailhouse. We viewed until eventually Bullock was walked out of the scheduling place and into an additional aspect of the jail. We under no circumstances noticed Bullock modify out of her road clothing to put on a jail-issued uniform just before being walked out of the scheduling location and into a different part of the jail.

Bullock was arrested Thursday morning after a choose issued Bennettsville law enforcement a warrant charging Bullock with pointing and presenting a firearm, a felony below South Carolina’s criminal code. The cost stems from a Feb. 3 argument between Bullock and her then-roommate, Shanda Nash.

Nash called law enforcement to report Bullock stood over her and pointed a gun in her encounter throughout the argument inside of their Bennettsville home. “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 police charged Bullock with a misdemeanor rely of pointing and presenting a handgun.

Decide Larry Rogers’ courtroom is located powering these doors at the community entrance of the Marlboro County jail. Rogers and jail administration would not make it possible for the sufferer, a witness, or a FOX 46 crew within the court docket proceeding for the criminal charge towards Tammy Bullock. (WJZY Picture/Jody Barr)

Immediately after a FOX 46 investigation into how the department billed Bullock, Main Kevin Miller asked the city’s attorney to evaluate the scenario and how Bullock was billed. Miller also requested the State Regulation Enforcement Division to investigate his department’s managing of the circumstance.

Bullock’s bond hearing was established for some time concerning 8:30 and 9 a.m. Thursday. We only know that because Nash explained she bought a phone from 1st Sergeant Bostic all around 7:50 a.m. to explain to her about the bond hearing.

Nash immediately still left her dwelling and drove to the jail. A jailer who answered the intercom outside the house the general public accessibility doorway told Nash and her daughter, who was a witness in the situation, to wait around in their car until eventually they’re named by the choose.

Marlboro County jail Warden Kevin Thomas would not let a FOX 46 Chief Investigative Reporter Jody Barr into a Nov. 4, 2021 court continuing for fmr. Marlboro County Deputy Probate Choose Tammy Bullock. (WJZY Picture/Trevor Beck)

All over 8:33 a.m., Bostic opened the public accessibility door and shouted for “The victim.” Nash and her daughter walked to the door and Bostic would not allow for Nash’s daughter into the courtroom. A handful of minutes afterwards, Nash walked out of the door to say Choose Larry Rogers advised her he was location Bullock’s bond at $5,000 and purchasing Bullock to have no call with Nash, both “director or indirect,” Nash said the decide instructed her as a result of a window in the jail.

Nash mentioned the choose finished the discussion with her and she was escorted out of the jail doorway. Nash, nor her daughter, ended up allowed into the bond listening to, which is a courtroom proceeding open up to any person in the general public. A couple of minutes later, jailers summoned Bullock’s lawyer into the courtroom and locked the community door driving him.

FOX 46 Main Investigator Jody Barr asked to be allow into the bond listening to, as well. Barr asked jailers to allow the decide know our crew was outside waiting around to be let in to watch the hearing. Marlboro County jail Warden Kevin Thomas walked out the general public obtain doorway to explain to Barr neither the judge nor the jail would permit any one into the listening to.

Here’s the transcript of that discussion:

WARDEN: “Are you with the information media?”

BARR: “Yes, sir.”
WARDEN: “The motive we’re not letting you in is mainly because of COVID. So that is the cause why we’re restricting it to our men and women in the jail at this time, alright?”

BARR: “What’s the judge’s title?”

WARDEN: “What’s the judge’s identify?”

BARR: “The judge who manufactured the – since I’m likely to call the Supreme Court docket and file a criticism.”

WARDEN: “File a grievance on what?”

BARR: “You cannot just they simply cannot disallow people today into a public court docket and observe the proceedings in a courtroom.”

WARDEN: “Okay, very well, I’ll allow him (Choose Rogers) discuss to you.”

Rogers under no circumstances spoke with FOX 46. In excess of an intercom discussion with the jail, Barr was advised Judge Rogers didn’t “Have time” to explore Bullock’s listening to or the outcomes of his bond setting.

A lookup of the South Carolina Bar’s associates listing does not clearly show Rogers retains a regulation diploma or is a member of the point out bar.

SUPREME Court Grievance

Inspite of the Marlboro County jail warden’s assertion the jail’s courtrooms are closed for the reason that of the pandemic, the South Carolina Supreme Court’s world-wide-web website shows Marlboro County bond courts are working in a “Normal,” position.

Only the Marlboro County Probate Court and the Municipal Court are functioning under a “Limited” status. Bullock’s hearing was held in a bond courtroom.

We could not reach Decide Rogers on Thursday. We filed a grievance with the state Supreme Court’s Place of work of Disciplinary Counsel to have Rogers’ conclusion to block the victim, the witness, and the general public from Bullock’s courtroom visual appearance investigated by the court’s investigative device.

The criticism was submitted on Nov. 4. We informed Rogers, by way of electronic mail, of the complaint and supplied the choose the prospect to deliver a reaction and rationalization as to why he blocked general public access to Bullock’s hearing.

Jay Bender writes notes from a South Carolina Code of Legislation e book through a Nov. 3, 2021 job interview with FOX 46 Main Investigator Jody Barr at his Columbia law agency. (WJZY Picture/Jody Barr)

Choose Rogers did not reply to our ask for.

“Article I, Sec. 9 of the SC Constitution needs all courts to be open until there has been a listening to in which a party relocating to near a court docket proceeding demonstrates that closure is necessary to safeguard a higher governmental curiosity and closure is the only technique readily available to protect that interest,” South Carolina First Amendment legal professional Jay Bender explained to FOX 46.

Bender has practiced media law in South Carolina for just about 50 a long time and is extensively identified as the state’s authorized expert on the state’s Flexibility of Information and facts Act.

Bender said for the reason that of Rogers’ actions “the community was excluded from the bond listening to illegally.”

“Open courts are our guarantee that justice will be administered relatively,” Bender explained to Barr, “Secret courts invite abuse.”

SC SUPREME Court docket: Structure ‘Guarantees’ open up courts

The public’s – and media outlets’ – legal rights to attend courtroom hearings was the topic of a 2006 South Carolina Supreme Court docket order in a circumstance in which Greenville-region information retailers were locked out of court docket proceedings in a demise penalty demo in 2003 above a judge’s considerations about pre-trial publicity.

This scenario, “…lays it out extremely evidently,” Bender advised FOX 46 of how the state Constitution deems all courtrooms in the point out open to any individual who wishes in.  

Circuit Court docket Decide Buddy Nicholson, Jr. would not let reporters into a pre-demo proof suppression listening to in the murder demo of Charles Christopher Williams. Williams was in the beginning charged with assault and battery with intent to eliminate following he assaulted a lady as she remaining her grocery retail store task in Greenville, in accordance to the Supreme Court’s 2006 order.

Williams bought out on bond and went back again to the grocery retailer with a shotgun and held the target hostage in an hrs-extensive standoff with police. When law enforcement “stormed” the retail store they found the sufferer dead, shot 4 moments with a shotgun.

South Carolina Main Justice Jean Toal speaks in the course of a court docket continuing in which arguments have been listened to in the South Carolina Supreme Courtroom among Attorney Basic Alan Wilson and Household Speaker Bobby Harrell concerning the Dwelling Ethics Committee in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, June 23, 2014. (AP Picture/ Richard Shiro)

The SC Supreme Court docket found the choose in the 2003 demo experienced no right to near the courtroom to the community. The courtroom also located the choose worked to shift the scenario out of city to lessen media coverage. The trial courtroom held most of the pre-demo proceedings in Anderson (South Carolina) in hopes that the media would not show up at,” the 2006 purchase mentioned.

“The rights of the general public and the press to show up at criminal trials are guaranteed by the South Carolina Structure and the United States Constitution,” former South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal wrote in the court’s order. Toal was joined by 4 other justices in the decision.

The Supreme Courtroom reminded South Carolina judges closing courtrooms can only be done below stringent instances and not mainly because of a judge’s problems more than the publicity of a particular situation, “Additionally, we acquire this possibility to reiterate that jury voir dire is the favored and frequently accepted software that protects a defendant from the prejudicial consequences of pre-trial publicity,” Toal wrote.

In the Greenville circumstance, the justices wrote that Decide Nicholson “applied the right legal standard” in his conclusion to close the court, but that he was not justified in performing so and the court reversed Nicholson’s decision to near the courtroom.

The test for closing a courtroom is “a significant chance of prejudice from publicity that closure would stop and [that] there’s no sensible options,” to protecting against harm for a defendant’s ideal to a good trial the court wrote in the 2006 opinion.

We’ve requested Choose Rogers for remark, but as of the publishing of this report, Rogers has not responded.

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