By Paul Gable
Sunshine broke through into a S.C. Circuit Courtroom Tuesday highlighting at least one brief shining moment for the plaintiffs of the original Southern Holdings lawsuit.
Judge Doyet A. Early, III showed his courtroom follows the law, which, especially for the original Southern Holdings plaintiffs through the years, has been all too rare. He held forth as a judge who is not interested in the corrupt backroom deals that often smear the S.C. legal system, but, rather, in the truth.
As a result of Judge Early’s decisions Tuesday, attorneys John Rakowsky and Adrian Falgione will have to answer questions, both will be deposed and discovery will move forward in the Rakowsky v. Falgione et al interpleader action.
Despite the best efforts of Desa Ballard and her law partner Stephanie Weissenstein, Rakowsky will have to testify under penalty of perjury, or, alternatively, evoke his Fifth Amendment privilege.
Neither Rakowsky nor Falgione were in court yesterday, but they will be next time and the Southern Holdings plaintiffs, the real defendants in this case and the clients Rakowsky and Falgione represented, will have the opportunity to question them on the record.
Judge Early demonstrated courage and a dedication to the law. It is now time for federal district court Judge Bryan Harwell to do the same.
Judge Harwell presided over the Southern Holdings case and announced a settlement of the case in court in May 2007.
However, Judge Harwell knows there really is no settlement and no document exists where the Southern Holdings plaintiffs signed off on a settlement, as required by South Carolina law. However, to date, he continues to stonewall this knowledge.
There are really only two alternatives for Judge Harwell at this point. Either produce a valid court document signed by the Southern Holdings plaintiffs demonstrating they agreed to a settlement, or step aside and allow an unbiased judge to take over the tort claims lawsuit and other actions evolving from the original Southern Holdings case.
But, Judge Harwell, both you and I know no such settlement document can be produced because there was no settlement agreement to the original Southern Holdings case even though you announced one in court.
How do you explain that one?