Pubdate: Tue, 11 Nov 2003
Source: Beaufort Gazette, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003 The Beaufort Gazette
Author: Bruce F. Kinsey


Have you ever experienced a paradigm shift? The ink celebrating Municipal 
Judge George O'Kelley's resignation hadn't even dried before the city of 
Beaufort leveled its "perception of impropriety" cannon at Judge Manning 
Smith, his wife Elizabeth and the Beaufort County Drug Court. ("Drug Court 
Controversy" Beaufort Gazette 10/28/03).

If you are unaware of the Smiths and their small, dedicated group of 
champions, the families they've rescued and the crimes they've prevented, 
you should endeavor to learn more about them.

The Smiths have worked for more than two years, mostly pro bono, to produce 
one of the most successful drug courts in the nation.

Let me reiterate: Pro bono, that's Latin for "without pay." This committed 
troupe builds trust in those who have learned to trust no one, they lift 
them from despair and financial ruin, rescue them from the clutches of low 
life drug pushers and the other human slime that prey on them.

Then they build families. Families sabotaged by disingenuous friends. 
Families with members unintentionally addicted to painkillers. Families 
where teenagers had to grow up with drug addicted parents. Fathers, mothers 
and children struggling with a disease called alcoholism.

These are people and families you probably know, your neighbors, your friends.

Before there was a drug court, suffering individuals would have been 
handled much the way your 19th century ancestors dealt with the mentally 
ill, thrown into prison, buried out of sight and out of mind. Their 
families left to anguish without them.

Every last person living in the Lowcountry owes the unselfish drug court 
angels more than an apology for allowing the inflammatory statements in 
that story to be printed.

The people quoted in the article made allusions that the drug court may 
have been mistrustful with their money.

Only two council members, Billy Keyserling and Donnie Beer had the courage 
to stand in defense of the drug court. They are right, of course. There was 
no misappropriation of funds.

Knowing the harm false allegations can do to an organization that relies so 
much on trust to support the very people it's trying to save, why would 
anyone make those comments? It almost looks as if the people making them 
were intentionally trying to sabotage the court, doesn't it? Well, remember 
Walter Gay? He's the man with the trolley. The city never got its way with 
the trolley. It tried, but Gay had the good fortune to be represented by a 
brilliant attorney who upholds foremost, the dignity of others and refuses 
to be intimidated by the tactics of bullies.

With this strong ally, Gay won the legal right to operate his business 
unfettered by fines or harassment for some time to come, and the city of 
Beaufort was left with a very serious public image problem.

The attorney representing Gay of course, was Manning Smith, judge of 
Beaufort County's drug court.

There, you've just experienced a paradigm shift.

Bruce F. Kinsey

Lady's Island 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman