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Administrative – Child Abuse Registry – ‘Expedited’ Hearing – TRO

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//June 6, 2019

Administrative – Child Abuse Registry – ‘Expedited’ Hearing – TRO

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//June 6, 2019

S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-1230 requires immediate entry into the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect of the name of a person administratively determined to have harmed or threatened to harm a child. The statute is thus intended to protect children; however, the statute’s requirement of an expedited hearing also shows the General Assembly’s intent to protect parties from being wrongfully placed on the Registry at such an early investigative stage. Since the party accused of abuse has no opportunity to be heard until the administrative hearing, a hearing set for 82 days after entry into the Registry does not satisfy the statutory mandate of expedited review.

We affirm the family court’s entry of a temporary restraining order requiring the Department of Social Services to remove respondent from the Registry pending further administrative review.

Although respondent has been exonerated, this case fits within an exception to the mootness doctrine: allowing courts to examine matters that are capable of repetition, yet evade review.

The family court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear matters concerning the abuse and neglect of children. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-530 provides exclusive jurisdiction to the family court “to issue orders compelling public officials and officers to perform official acts under Title 63, the Children’s Code”. We find no error by the family court in ordering the removal of respondent’s name from the Registry pending his administrative review as the remedy it imposed for DSS’s failure to provide an expedited hearing.

Wardlaw v. South Carolina Department of Social Services (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-052-19, 7 pp.) (Paul Short, J.) Appealed from the Family Court in Greenville County (Alex Kinlaw, J.) Christopher Jackson and Shawn Reeves for appellant; Bruce Bannister and Luke Burke for respondent. S.C. App.

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