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Court clears shooter in home-is-castle case; AG skeptical (access required)

The state fought hard to nail down the murder indictment, giving the trial court plenty of evidence in addition to the autopsy report on the victim, who died of a gunshot wound to his face. There were the witness statements. The photos and video of the crime scene. And the recording of the 911 call during the shooting. But, despite everything the state could throw at him, defendant Gregory Duncan was immune to prosecution - and properly so, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled. Robert M. Dudek (pictured) of the S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense in Columbia, represented Duncan.

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N.C. county hopes 4th Circuit is answer to prayers (access required)

Forsyth County, N.C.'s hope that its prayers-at-government-meetings practice will be ruled constitutional hinges on the county's open invitation to any religion to supply those prayers. The legal battle, in which the county lost its first two skirmishes, renewed May 12 with oral arguments in front of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, Va.

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State loses ownership of marsh islands (access required)

The South Carolina Supreme Court has removed a roadblock that for years has thwarted the placing of docks or other structures on the state's marsh islands. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled in favor of a woman who sued to quiet title to a Beaufort County island. The decision overturned rulings under which the state of South Carolina asserted presumptive ownership of thousands of islands along the state's coast.

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Regions Bank, developer settle dispute over building loan (access required)

A foreclosure action in which the parties traded claims and counterclaims over alleged improprieties in the disbursement of a $2.4 million loan for a construction project in Clemson has concluded with a settlement. Regions Bank agreed to reduce the balance owed on the loan to about $1,136,000, down from the almost $2 million the bank originally claimed as due on the loan, lawyers for the defendants said.

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Uncivil unrest (access required)

The lawyer-to-opposing-counsel email was 146 words, and the South Carolina Supreme Court deemed it uncivil because of two that normally would be thought most benign: "daughter" and "child." But the email was blunt, sharply worded. The sender stated he had information that the other attorney's daughter had been detained for buying "cocaine and heroine." He wrote that a child's drug use was "far worse than the allegations your client is making."

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Formalized ADR means better resolutions, fewer trials, lawyers say (access required)

Attorneys have been known to agree on little, but on the rise of formalized alternative dispute resolution in South Carolina trial courts, they agree on one point: ADR is good for litigants and good for attorneys. But it may be depriving young attorneys of courtroom experience. Columbia attorney and mediator John Moylan told Lawyers Weekly that the pilot mediation program the Supreme Court started over a decade ago has expanded to numerous counties in the state, where some form of mediation is mandatory in civil cases.

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Sign might remain for awhile, but internal changes underway for Buist (access required)

As the longtime Charleston firm of Buist Moore Smythe McGee readied for its May 2 debut as Womble Carlyle's newest office, one detail seemed to escape managing partners at both firms last week. Would the Womble Carlyle sign be up on the former Buist Moore offices on this first Monday morning after the North Carolina giant completed its April 30 acquisition?

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New ASTM energy standard to impact commercial real estate transactions (access required)

The growth of renewable energy in the U.S. has been subject to inconsistent public policy at both the federal and state levels. This lack of predictability creates difficulty for investors looking for long-term stability, which is needed to justify the often significant capital investments associated with most renewable energy systems. Despite this uncertainty, one renewable energy that continues to show steady progress is an area often not even seen as a renewable energy resource: energy efficiency.

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