Rachel Armstrong locked up for unpaid legal fees to former State Rep. Mandy Kimmons.
On December 22, 2021, The Post and Courier filed an astonishing news item:
SC state lawmaker from Dorchester County abruptly resigns month before start of session.
The article had everyone asking why S.C. State Representative Mandy Kimmons, who was also an attorney, would be resigning. In a Facebook post Dec. 21, the two-term lawmaker said she intended to shift her focus to her law practice and serving the local community, calling the choice to leave a “difficult” one in her formal letter of resignation.
Were those the true intentions of this Ridgeville Republican State Rep. Mandy Kimmons?
It turns out she was applying before S.C. Senator Luke Rankin’s JMSC for an appointment to the S.C. Judicial Bench. Senator Rankin and his allies put their colleague on that very bench.
In her application to the JMSC, Mandy Kimmons even cited the Trotter v. Armstrong case (FLEX move?) to the JMSC bragging on (rarely awarded) attorney fees.
Just yesterday, Rachel Armstrong, a mother of a 6 year old was locked up for unpaid legal fees to Judge Kimmons for a period dating back to when Mandy Kimmons was a lawyer.
Please note that the judge who locked Armstrong up yesterday did not consider a mother’s ability to pay in an apparent violation of Srivastava v Srivastava that states “A party’s ability to pay is an essential factor in determining whether an attorney’s fee should be awarded, as are the parties’ respective financial conditions and the effect of the award on each party’s standard of living.”
LOCKING UP A MOTHER OF A 6 YEAR OLD ON September 20, 2023
The mother of a 6 year old is unemployed. The mother’s name is Rachel Armstrong. She was arrested yesterday at a court appearance for unpaid legal fees to Judge Mandy Kimmons.
As a former practicing attorney Mandy Kimmons represented the father in this case. The court ruled that Armstrong was required to pay $7,500 of the father’s attorney fees to the father’s lawyer, Mandy Kimmons.
The below standards/guidelines appear to have been violated, when Rachel Armstong was arrested for those court mandated unpaid legal fees to Mandy Kimmons while Kimmons was a practicing attorney.
REASONS GUIDELINES WERE VIOLATED
(1) ethical standards clearly prohibit a lawyer-judge from practicing law in the judge’s own court (Jud Law §16; Rules Governing Judicial Conduct §100.6[B].
(2) Principle 6.3. Enforcement of Legal Financial Obligations. As a general proposition, in cases where the court finds that the failure to pay was due not to the fault of the defendant/respondent but to lack of financial resources, the court must consider measures of punishment other than incarceration. Courts cannot incarcerate or revoke the probation of a defendant/respondent for nonpayment of a Legal Financial Obligation unless the court holds a hearing and makes one of the following findings: (1) that the defendant’s/respondent’s failure to pay was not due to an inability to pay but was willful or due to failure to make bona fide efforts to pay; or (2) that even if the failure to pay was not willful or was due to inability to pay, no adequate alternatives to imprisonment exist to meet the State’s interest in punishment and deterrence in the defendant’s/respondent’s particular situation. Article I, Section 9 of the S.C. Constitution, which reads:
(3) SECTION 19. Imprisonment for debt. No person shall be imprisoned for debt except in cases of fraud. (1970 (56) 2684; 1971 (57) 315.)
And did Representative Kimmons even wait a year as she is required to do upon leaving the Statehouse?
Note: when Mandy Kimmons withdrew… hours before taking the bench, the bench calendar was already published. She’d been a judge for a month PLUS the date when the order was filed in May. She’d had 6 weeks or so on the bench.
From the National Center for State Courts citing Matter of Filipowicz, 54 AD2d 3482d Dept 1976, this is well-established to be judicial misconduct;
Mother’s Unite to pay Armstrong’s Legal Fees, but it gets even worse
However, the attorney who picked up the father’s case from Kimmons, Jennilee E. Pirtle, is making it almost impossible for these concerned citizens to pay the bill. NOTE THE TEXT BELOW….
This email sent a.m. today to Pirtle from a concerned resident.
I have not heard from you since my emails or voicemails with your office and the number on record for Judge Kimmons at sccourts.org
As we have been instructed a young woman will remain incarcerated, not because she is unwilling to pay money Judge Kimmons has demanded, but because you will not communicate regarding remittance of payment, you have placed Ms. Armstrong in peril.
You are violating her civil rights under Color of Law. This is absolute false imprisonment.
The detention center has now instructed Rachel Armstrong we can tell the Beaufort County Clerk’s Office you have not returned messages, so they may accept payment on your behalf. If this is not in accord with your understanding please contact me with speed.
Subjecting a young woman to incarceration and then preventing the avenue for her release is a cruel and punishment. I am also informed the detention center employees are telling Ms. Armstrong she holds the key to her own release and all she has to do is pay the fees.
That is not true. The key is being held by you and Judge Kimmons. Telling Ms. Armstrong it his her own fault she is still in jail when she and all her supporters have made every effort to comply with every directive is also cruel and unusual punishment.
ATTORNEY PIRTLE’S RESPONSE TO RESIDENT
Resident told Attorney Pirtle, “Said I was going to the sherrif’s office. Pirtle just sent me spoof web site to pay. Card declined. Called Bank of America, got all proof recorded. Fake web site.“
Approximately 2 hours after our article was published, payment was accepted for Rachel Armstrong. MyrtleBeachSC News is informed Mrs. Armstrong is being released in the next short period.