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KellyGram – Lessons from the Lenten Season

 

I try to stay away from religious and political commentary on my weekly writings of the KellyGram. However, my reflections on Ash Wednesday as I attended the noon service at my beloved home church, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, compelled me to share with you my some of my takeaways.

I deeply respect the founding principles of our great nation for religious freedom, and that those who read this KellyGram are from all walks of faith. I believe, however, that the following principles of Lent are applicable to all of us, for the betterment of our community citizenship and of ourselves as individuals.

Primarily, Lent is a time of cleansing and self-examination. During these next 40 days of Lent, I plan to examine my own failings, shortcomings, bad habits, and reflect on whom I have wronged over this last year. This will, no doubt, take some time, some prayer, and some pain! I suggest we all can benefit from humbling ourselves by engaging in a rigorous process of self-examination and taking actionable steps to be better people. I am a very blessed man, and I take for granted so many advantages that God has given me on an hourly, if not minute-by-minute, basis. Giving something up for Lent originates with Jesus’s 40 days of fasting, and has applicability to all of us, no matter what our faith. I have elected to give up something for Lent this year which will remain personal to me, but there are other ways Lent can impact our behavior and daily living. In yesterday’s Homily, our interim rector, Rev. Tom Nicoll, talked about self-examination and what comes next. Some may decide not to give up anything (a truly personal choice) but instead decide to add ‘something’ into their daily lives, such as: taking on a civic project, reestablishing contact with an old friend, helping the elderly, the poor and the downtrodden. Not just for a day, but for the Lenten Season, and possibly longer! The opportunities right here in our own community, are endless. I invite your own individual thoughts.

Have a Great Weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – We love happy clients!

 

At the Mike Kelly Law Group we come to work every day in our offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro with the goal of helping people! We try to do it with the best possible compassion, understanding, and customer service combined with the best legal expertise we can deliver. With our vast amount of experience, I am blessed to say that we are able to help lots of people and cover a major portion of the state of South Carolina!

Below is a very special note that I received this week from a Social Security Disability client. As you can see from this excerpt she was very happy with our firm and especially happy with my longest serving employee, Sally Grisetti! She is affectionately known around here as the “Queen.” Sally is the most knowledgeable paralegal on this planet on the subject of disability. She considers it her mission of faith to be there for her clients to answer their questions day, night, or weekends; it does not matter! Sally and the rest of the members of the Mike Kelly Law Group are happy to be here for the people of South Carolina!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Access to Healthcare

 

Access to Heath, Vision and Dental Care in the Midlands is very inconsistent. There are people who have access to first class care and then others who are caught in the gap and have little to no healthcare coverage. With our primary focus on personal injury, insurance, and disability litigation at the Mike Kelly Law Group, we see this firsthand and therefore applaud the United Way of the Midlands for their efforts in providing dental and vision coverage to a significant number of people in our state. Let us pray that whatever happens in Washington with regard to the future of healthcare that more of our citizens have access to a basic human right – healthcare coverage.

Kudos to United Ways of the Midlands!

http://www.wistv.com/story/34466108/one-year-after-expansion-of-services-united-way-providing-dental-vision-care-to-record-number-of-low-income-families

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Milestone Birthday for Mac Kelly

 

My son, Mac Kelly, turned 30 years young this week, and his actual birthday brought a tear to his dad’s eye. Mac is a loving, kind and charismatic giant who makes friends wherever he goes. He has a signature smile (that God failed to give me) and a calm demeanor that is pleasing to all. He is a strong and handsome young fellow, if I do say so myself. Although he has his challenges, like the rest of us, I am confident that he is going to continue to mature and have a successful future ahead of him.

PS: I am especially proud of the fact that his birthday present, a super duper bicycle, has him out riding 5 – 15 miles per day. Keep up the good work Mac, and you will be a lean, mean, fighting machine. I love you!!!!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – My Thoughts on Selecting an Attorney

 

Having started my 40th year as a practicing attorney, I feel like I am qualified to offer a few good suggestions on how to select your legal representative! The best way is to ask around. Go to knowledgeable friends or acquaintances and ask them about attorneys that they have had personal experiences with. A good attorney is not the one with the flashiest commercials or websites, but one that is friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and surrounds himself or herself with a team of professionals that give outstanding customer service. I also suggest that you check out google reviews and research the attorney’s level of experience. Schedule an in-person consultation where you can spend sufficient face-to-face time to make sure that the attorney is a good fit for your needs.

If you do not want to go through this lengthy process, I would say it is a safe bet to call the Mike Kelly Law Group for your legal needs.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – First Party and Insurance Bad Faith Claims

 

Throughout the entire history of our firm, we have assisted home and property owners with disputes that arise in the event of a loss. A loss may be wind, water, hail, or fire damage to our residences or commercial properties as well as casualty losses to our automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, etc. Please know that the insurance company has a fiduciary duty to handle your claim in a fair and equitable manner. While many insurers and adjusters treat their customers fairly, sadly that is not always the case. The first thing we always recommend is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as my mother used to say! I strongly recommend that you sit down and actually read your policies. While you may not be able to understand all of the coverages, it is important that you understand the basics. Most particularly, make sure that you have replacement cost value on any of your home’s contents and have a separate rider to adequately cover your valuables, such as fine jewelry, watches, and silver. Finally, I would suggest that you shop online, read reviews, and compare one insurance agent to another. If you are not satisfied with the handling of your claim, call the Mike Kelly Law Group. We’re here for the people of South Carolina!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Another Peaceful Transition of Power

 

I have voted in quite a few presidential elections, and have witnessed a major transition of power between Republicans and Democrats, and vice versa. At noon today, after the most contentious presidential election in my lifetime, Donald J. Trump was installed as the 45th President of the United States. President Barack Obama handed the reins to the new President without a shot being fired, or an open rebellion taking place. This is due to America’s respect for the United States Constitution, and our system of elections. No matter which candidate we support during the election, we come together as Americans and support our government, even as we maintain our freedom to express our opinions and disagree when we feel it appropriate. This is what makes our Constitutional system the greatest in the world. May God continue to bless the United States of America!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram -A Phenomenal Year

 

My fellow Carolina fans, my friends, and my family…hold onto your hats because Mike Kelly is dedicating this week’s KellyGram to the 2016 National Champions, the Clemson Tigers! I am a diehard Carolina supporter, both academically and athletically, as compared to anyone on the face of this Earth, but I must give credit where credit is due. The Clemson Tigers pulled off a phenomenal achievement, with the quality and excellent players on their team over the past several seasons, culminating in a National Championship victory Monday night. My hat is off to Dabo and the entire team, especially Deshaun Watson and Hunter Renfrow (a Grand Strand walk-on who saved his best game for the championship). The entire Clemson nation should be very proud!

Here’s to hoping that Will Muschamp and his program will one day emulate the success of the 2016 Clemson Tigers!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – 2017

 

2017 is off to a fast start at the Mike Kelly Law Group, and I hope I am ready for a turbo-charged year! After spending a good portion of the last two weeks reflecting on 2016 and our accomplishments and challenges, I have sat down and made my 2017 to-do list with deadlines. Over my career I have received lots of coaching, and have been to several personal development classes. I hope the combination of age, gray hair, and life experience has made me a more understanding person and a better lawyer. The men and women of the Mike Kelly Law Group stand ready to serve your legal needs, and to be involved in our local community. Please do not hesitate to give us a call if we can be of service!

happy-new-year-2017-2

Happy New Year!

 

Mike Kelly

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Donald Trump & The Supreme Court – Part I

Brad Hewett

trump

Donald Trump was elected and will take office as the 45th President in a few weeks. You may need to re-read that sentence and make sure you aren’t dreaming, or having a nightmare, depending on your politics of course. I’ll avoid jumping in the mud and state obviously enough that we all have our musings on Trump’s personality, celebrity, campaign, tweets, wife, hair, enterprises, and upcoming administration. While each facet of the Donald is worthy of its own discussion (Trump was ranked 8th on Google’s top 10 trending list of 2016, notably behind Prince and Pokemon Go), this entry is geared toward Trump’s replacement of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on February 13, 2016.

Although the Trump administration has promised measures that will have extensive economic and international consequences, such as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and steep tariffs on imported goods, his Supreme Court nomination could be the most important decision of his administration.

Why is Trump’s Supreme Court nomination so important? First, the average length of service for non-incumbent Supreme Court justices is 16.7 years, meaning it is likely that whomever Trump appoints will be on the bench long after he vacates office. While Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Harold Bornstein trumpeted that Donald Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” and that Trump’s “strength and physical stamina are extraordinary”, Trump’s nominee (or even nominees) may still be on the bench even after he has gone on to the Trump Tower in the sky.

Second, the Supreme Court rules on a wide array of issues that affect us all, i.e. abortion, marriage, healthcare, religious freedom, etc. For many, there is a misunderstanding, or even indifference, of how important Trump’s decision on the nomination really may be, and the impact it could have on the United States for years to come.

If you are curious as to how the nomination process1 works, or just looking to hone your trivia skills, then read on my friends. Under Article II of the Constitution, the President will use his sole power to nominate a candidate who is well-qualified, and likely serves his political interests. The President will refer the nominee to the Senate Judiciary Committee, made up of twenty Senators, which will check the nominee’s credentials and background.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds the first hearing for the nominee and questions his or her qualifications. Witnesses that support and oppose the nominee present testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the nominee is provided with the opportunity to respond. Senators that may oppose a nominee can attempt to delay the nomination by requesting additional information or additional time prior to the hearing.

Next, the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on whether to report the nominee to the full Senate. The Committee can report the nomination with a favorable recommendation, an unfavorable recommendation, or no recommendation at all. Senators that may oppose the nominee can delay the nomination by using procedural tactics to prevent a committee vote.

The full Senate will then debate the nomination until a Senator asks for unanimous consent to conclude the debate and proceed to a vote. Any Senator can refuse to grant unanimous consent, also known as a filibuster. If a Senator objects to unanimous consent, then a cloture motion must be filed in order to end the filibuster and move to vote. Cloture motions for Supreme Court nominations require 60 votes to pass. If 60 Senators support cloture, the full Senate will vote on the nominee with a majority required for confirmation. If few than 60 Senators support the cloture, the debate continues, a vote cannot occur, and the nomination fails.

If 60 Senators vote for cloture, a simple 51 vote majority is required for confirmation. If less than 51 Senators vote for confirmation, then the nomination fails. If the 51 Senators or more vote in favor of confirmation, then the nomination is confirmed. If the nomination fails, the President must start the process again by recommending a nominee.

Now, if you are really a Supreme Court junkie and are interested in cases scheduled for the 2016-2017 United States Supreme Court docket, below is a description of a couple intriguing cases:

Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.2

Gavin Grimm is transgender boy in high school in Gloucester County, Virginia. Gavin’s biological sex is female, but his gender identity is male. As a freshman, he was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Since the end of his freshman year, he has undergone hormone therapy and legally changed his name to “Gavin.” Gavin lives all aspects of his life as a teenage boy. In 2014, as an incoming sophomore, Gavin and his mother informed school officials that he was a transgender boy. At Gavin’s request, the school allowed him to use the boys’ restroom. This went without incident for about two months. However, the community became involved and Gloucester County School Board adopted a bathroom policy that restricts students to use the bathroom of their biological sex.

Gavin sued the school board on June 11, 2015. He sought an injunction allowing him to use the boys’ restroom and brought claims that he was discriminated against in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The district court dismissed Gavin’s Title IX claim and denied his request for a preliminary injunction, but withheld ruling on the motion to dismiss Gavin’s equal protection claim. Gavin appealed and The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of Gavin’s Title IX claim based on the Department of Education’s interpretation of its own ambiguous regulation. The Fourth Circuit reasoned that the agency’s interpretation is entitled to Auer deference and was to be accorded controlling weight in the case. The Fourth Circuit also vacated the district court’s denial of Gavin’s motion for preliminary injunction and remanded the case to the district court.

In August 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order putting the Fourth Circuit’s mandate on hold until it could make a decision on the petition for writ of certiorari. On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court decided to grant the petition. The questions presented are (1) whether courts should extend deference to an unpublished agency letter that, among other things, does not carry the force of law and was adopted in context of the very dispute in which deference is sought; and (2) whether, with or without deference to the agency, the Department of Education’s specific interpretation of Title IX and 34 CFR § 106.33, which provides public schools receiving federal funds providing sex-separated facilities must generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity, should be given effect. Oral arguments will occur in the spring of 2017, with a likely decision in June 2017.

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley3

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) has a licensed preschool and daycare. The preschool and daycare incorporates daily religious instruction into its programs. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants that provide funds for organizations to purchase recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. Trinity applied for the grant but was denied because the Missouri Constitution stated the state government cannot fund churches. Trinity sued Missouri DNR Director, Sara Pauley, in her official capacity and argued that DNR’s denial of its application violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and its First Amendment protections of freedom of religion and speech.

The district court granted Pauley’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and Trinity moved for reconsideration and to amend its complaint to include allegations that such grants had previously been given to religious organizations. The district court denied the motions, and the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal and denial of motions. The Supreme Court granted Trinity’s petition for writ of certiorari on January 15, 2016. The question presented by Trinity is whether the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses when the state has no valid Establishment Clause concern.

Stay tuned for Part II of this riveting piece for information on Trump’s potential nominees and other cases that may be on the 2016-2017 SCOTUS docket. Special thanks to Kayla Culver for her research and contributions to this entry. Kayla is a law clerk at the Mike Kelly Law Group and second year law student at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
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1Tem Meko, et al., Everything you need to know about appointing a Supreme Court justice, The Washington Post (March 7, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/scotus-nominees/; see also How the Confirmation Process Works, American Constitutional Society, http://judicialnomin ations.org/how-the-confirmation-process-works (last visited January 6, 2017); and Supreme Court Justice Nomination Process, American Bar Association, http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/supremecourtnomination.html (last visited January 6, 2017).

2G.G. ex rel. Grimm v. Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd., 822 F.3d 709 (4th Cir.), cert. granted in part, 137 S. Ct. 369 (2016); see also 16-273 Glouchester County School Board v. G.G. Questions Presented, Supreme Court of the United States, (December 26, 2016), https://www.supremecourt.gov/qp/16-00273qp.pdf; and Gloucester County School Board v. G.G, SCOTUSblog, http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/gloucester-county-school-board-v-g-g/ (last visited January 6, 2017).

3Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/2016/15-577 (last visited Jan 6, 2017); see also Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, SCOTUSblog, http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/trinity-lutheran-church-of-columbia-inc-v-pauley/ (last visited January 6, 2017).