Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Elkins-Johnson case diverted

Yesterday's newspaper, The State, reports that the January charges against Monica Elkins-Johnson in Richland County Central Court have been addressed. According to The State, the case was "diverted to an intervention program", rather than continuing to a jury trial.

I've been following this case since January. Elkins-Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct after a verbal conflict following the January 23 school board meeting. A video of the incident was published numerous times in The State. According to print media, Elkins-Johnson shoved Erica Davis after a January 23 [sic] school board meeting. (The correct date of the school board meeting was January 22.)

Davis is the sister of South Carolina State Senator Mia McLeod.

According to a January 31, 2019, article in The State by reporter Lucas Daprile, Elkins-Johnson shoved Davis, referencing a report by a deputy of the Richland County Sheriff's Department. That article also mentions the incorrect date of the school board meeting as Jan. 23, a Wednesday. Richland 2 holds its school board meetings on Tuesdays.

Daprile's article includes "Stacy McKie told police Elkins-Johnson punched 'an unnamed victim in the chest area,' but the report provides no details regarding that allegation."

What kind of dumb witness statement is that??? If police (deputies) are going to receive a witness statement and give it any credence at all, there must be a victim and the victim must be identified or described. Otherwise, such a statement is worthless.

Stacy McKie is the husband of Amelia McKie, who the Board would say was Board Chair at the time. Amelia McKie was the subject of resignation demands at the January 22 school board meeting. Over a period of four years she violated numerous Ethics laws and owes over $51,000 in fines and penalties to the Ethics Commission and, even to this date, has not paid them.

When you look at the video of the incident from the recording by the lobby video camera (without sound), it is clear that some man accosted and provoked Dr. Elkins-Johnson. He approached her and shoved what looks like a cell phone right in her face.

Over the months since January, I have followed this case closely. It took the courts a long time to find a judge who did not recuse himself, and a court employee told me they had to find a judge outside Richland County to hear the case. Before yesterday I was told that yesterday's court date was canceled, so I didn't go to court for the scheduled hearing.

Yesterday's court date wasn't canceled. I thought there would have been a hearing, at which a judge received and approved a deal made by the prosecution and Elkins-Johnson's attorney (and accepted by her). However, this morning I learned from Central Court that a defendant can "self-refer" to the diversion program and, if permitted by the Solicitor's office, can enroll in a diversion program.

All things considered, going that route was probably the right thing. It stops the meter running in her attorney's office and it temporarily eliminates a jail sentence and monetary fine. Rolling the dice with a jury (or even a judge in a bench trial) is risky. No matter how strong your defense and how weak the prosecution, a defendant doesn't really know what the outcome will be. And when the prosecution's witnesses include a State Senator, a sister of that senator, and the husband of an elected official, I would  say the cards are stacked against a defendant.

What would I have done? I would have spent the money and rolled the dice. I would have hired a killer-shark of any attorney and demanded that she clean all the meat off the bones of the prosecution's witnesses. If the Sheriff's Department report was not exactly right, I would have expected my attorney to rip it to shreds.

The mention of two reports at the sheriff's department reminded me of the March 20th report against me by Teresa Holmes. The deputy's report contained so many false statements that it was unbelievable. A one-hour conversation resulted in a finding of "a crime did not occur". I've wondered whether the deputy required Holmes to write a personal statement, on which he based his report. Or did he just listen to her and then write it up? The only crime that occurred was all the lies in the report against me.