State Court Injunction Standards

We start this Page with the blogger’s home state, South Carolina.  In due time, all 50 states will be covered here.

South Carolina:

South Carolina has seen a rash of election related injunction actions the last few years, including the May 1, 2012 decision this year lifting a prior injunction and hlding that candidates that did not file their Statement of Economic Interest (“SEI”) with their.  Anderson v. S.C. Election Commission, Op. No. 27210 (2012). (holding “unambiguous language and expression of legislative intent of § 8-13-1356(B) and (E) require an individual to file an SEI at the same time and with the same official with whom an [Statement of Intention of Candidacy (“SIC”)] is filed.”  The Court further held, “the names of any non-exempt individuals who did not file with the appropriate political party an SEI simultaneously with an SIC were improperly placed on the party primary ballots and must be removed”).  Other election related actions have been filed in Oconee and Horry Counties.

In South Carolina, the test for an injunction in  South Carolina as follows:  “To obtain an injunction, a party must demonstrate irreparable harm, a likelihood of success on the merits, and the absence of an adequate remedy at law.”  Denman v. City of Columbia, 387 S.C. 131, 140-41, 691 S.E.2d 465, 470 (2010). In contrast with federal court standards, South Carolina does not expressly provide for balance of the harm to the respective parties.

In Denman, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s grant of an injunction in favor of a citizen.  The City of Columbia sought to have an election for a vacated city council seat.  While the City wanted to hold the election on April 6, 2010, the trial court granted the injunction and held that the earliest that the City could hold the election was June 15, 2010, relying on a notice provision in S.C.Code Ann. § 7–13–35 (2009).  The trial court held  the city did not provide adequate notice of the election to the citizens.  Notice of the election was posted in the State Newspaper on March 14, 2010, and despite conflicting statutes, the court found 60 days’ notice was necessary before an election could take place.  The Plaintiff-Respondent alleged he was irreparably harmed by not having enough time to decide to run for the vacant seat.  Plaintiff also argued citizens of his district were irreparably harmed by not having enough time to register to vote if they were not already registered.  The Supreme Court reiterated the elements of an injunction and clarified established law when it stated:

Actions for injunctive relief are equitable in nature. See Grosshuesch v. Cramer, 367 S.C. 1, 4, 623 S.E.2d 833, 834 (2005). In equitable actions, an appellate court may review the record and make findings of fact in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 4, 623 S.E.2d at 834. To obtain an injunction, a party must demonstrate irreparable harm, a likelihood of success on the merits, and the absence of an adequate remedy at law. Id. at 4, 623 S.E.2d at 834; Sanford v. S.C. State Ethics Com’n, 385 S.C. 483, 496, 685 S.E.2d 600, 607 (2009). “An injunction is a drastic remedy issued by the court in its discretion to prevent irreparable harm suffered by the plaintiff.” Scratch Golf Co. v. Dunes W. Residential Golf Props., Inc., 361 S.C. 117, 121, 603 S.E.2d 905, 907 (2004).

Id. at  470.  The court overturned the injunction against holding the election because it found that the plaintiff did not meet the element of irreparable harm.  Id.  The court found that the plaintiff alleged harm, but did not provide any evidence that he or any of the citizens of District 2 were harmed.  Id.

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