West Virginia Record

Sunday, October 13, 2019

S.C. man says guardian has conflict of interest

By Lawrence Smith | Feb 8, 2013

CHARLESTON – A South Carolina man is alleging a Kanawha County family law judge has allowed a court-appointed guardian to remain in the case despite a conflict of interest.

Roger S. Meadows, Jr. on Jan. 31 filed a writ of prohibition in Kanawha Circuit Court against Judge D. Mark Snyder. In his writ, Meadows, 36 and of Charleston, S.C., says Snyder erred in denying motions he and his wife, Jennilea, filed in their pending child custody case because of his reliance on the guardian ad litem’s recommendations, who, Meadows alleges, is biased toward the other party.

According to his writ, the Meadows, until sometime in 2011, had custody of Bianca Paige Young. The writ does not specify their relationship except both they and Roger’s parents, Roger S. Meadows, Sr. and Karen Lynn Meadows, “claim[ed] psychological parental rights.”

Also, the writ does not specify why Bianca was removed from their custody. However, court records show Gary D. and Carolyn S. Smith from Belle were the ones to petition the family court for the change.

On a date not specified, Meadows says his then-attorney, Roger A. Decanio, discovered an apparent conflict with Randall Clarke serving as the guardian ad litem in the case. In a motion he filed Oct. 1 to remove him, Decanio said Clark “has in the past, and/or concurrently with this case represented the Petitioners, Carolyn S. Smith and Gary D. Smith’s son, Joshua Young, in a family law case.”

Decanio’s motion provides no specifics of Clarke’s alleged representation of Young.

Nevertheless, he said it “represents a considerable conflict of interest that renders [him] from further providing services in this case.”

In his motion, Decanio says on two separate occasions he asked Clarke to confirm or deny he at any time represented Young. Clarke’s failure to reply prompted his motion, Decanio said.

According to the writ, Snyder on an unspecified date denied Decanio’s motion. Also, Snyder on Jan. 17 ordered Meadows to pay Clarke for his services rendered.

The bill at that time was $6,919.40. The order, Meadows said, included a provision that Snyder would not make any more rulings until Clarke’s bill has paid.

A week later, Meadows asked Snyder to reconsider his ruling ordering him to pay Clarke based on the fact his income last year was $10,887, which qualifies him for indigency. However, Snyder denied it, too.

In their writ, the Meadows ask that Snyder’s denial of their motions for modification for custody of Bianca, and reconsideration of Clarke’s guardian ad litem fees be overturned. The case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court, case number 13-MISC-155

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