Coroner Bucky Mock files suit

by | June 29, 2018 8:39 pm

Last Updated: June 29, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Coroner Bucky Mock brought suit against LaNette Samuels-Cooper, as well as Clarendon County Board of Voter Registration & Elections, Clarendon County Democratic Party, South Carolina Democratic Party and South Carolina Election Commission. The suit was filed on June 14, just days after Samuels-Cooper won the popular vote for Coroner candidacy in the Clarendon County primary held on June 12. Samuels-Cooper is unprepared to offer a statement at this time.

Mock states he filed suit to follow the law. “The law states the qualifications. Somewhere along the line, it has to be addressed what the law states,” said Mock. According to Mock, his attorneys, Vordman Carlisle Traywick III and Robert E. Tyson, Jr., of Sowell Gray Robinson Stepp & Laffitte, LLC, in Columbia, included any party who was involved in the election process in the suit.

According to the filed complaint, “Defendant Clarendon County Democratic Party improperly certified Defendant Samuels-Cooper, even though Samuels-Cooper does not meet the statutory requirements of section 17-3-130 of the South Carolina Code.”

This code lists several qualifications, of which the candidate must meet at least one, which are required to run for coroner. These include the two qualifications Mock met, which are at least three years of experience in death investigation with a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner agency and a two-year associate degree and two years of experience in death investigation with those same agencies.

The remaining qualifications include being a law enforcement officer, certified by the S.C. Law Enforcement Training Council with a minimum of two years of experience, having completed a forensic science degree or certification program recognized by the S.C. Coroners Training Advisory Committee or being enrolled in a forensic science degree or certification program, being a medical doctor, or having a B.S. in Nursing. Neither candidate fell in these categories.

The final possible qualification is having a four-year baccalaureate degree and one year of experience in death investigation with a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner agency. As Samuels-Cooper has a bachelor’s degree, she checked this box. However, it is alleged that Samuels-Cooper does not have the one year of death investigation experience she claimed on this form. Lacking that experience would mean she was improperly placed on the ballot, as she did not meet the requirements to run.

There was a supplemental area below, and one of the options there is to clarify where you are enrolled in a forensic science degree or certification program recognized by the Advisory Committee, which would be completed within one year of being elected to the office of coroner. Samuels-Cooper stated she is enrolled in a course from August 13-18.

However, according to certification requirements, which include 640 hours of death investigation, this one-week course is not a certification course. Instead, it’s a continuing education course for those wishing to expand their credentials.

Mock and his attorneys filed for a temporary injunction on June 20. The injunction is to prevent Samuels-Cooper from being certified as a candidate or nominee for the Democratic Party for coroner in Clarendon County and prevent her from being placed on the ballot for the general election in November. They also seek a permanent injunction for the same things, hoping the law of South Carolina regarding requirements to become coroner are upheld.

Although Mock had obtained names of attorneys prior to the primary, concerned they might be needed, he hoped to avoid the situation. Other concerned individuals made attempts to contact the South Carolina Democratic Party with the alleged lack of qualifications for Samuels-Cooper prior to the primary election.

“People I know have called [the South Carolina Democratic Party] as Patricia Pringle stated they needed to do at the forums. The information they got after contacting [the South Carolina Democratic Party] was what was looked at but never published,” said Mock. “They got no specific answers.”

Mock is unsure how soon any temporary injunction may be issued, although he is trusting his legal team to ensure things are handled properly and in as timely a manner as possible.

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