James Fletcher Thompson

James Fletcher Thompson

Attorney

James Fletcher Thompson (Jim) was born in Savannah, Georgia, on December 12, 1960. He graduated from Paul M. Dorman High School in 1979, where he was elected Student Body President. James Fletcher Thompson received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Vanderbilt University in 1983, and served as
President of the Student Government Association.

Following three years of work in Washington, D.C., in a variety of political and public interest endeavors, Mr. Thompson returned to South Carolina to study law. While at the University of South Carolina School of Law, he served on the Board of Editors of the South Carolina Law Review. He graduated with a Juris Doctorate Degree in 1989 and joined his father, Fletcher D. Thompson, in law practice the same year.

Mr. Thompson’s study of South Carolina Adoption Law was published in the South Carolina Law Review in 1989. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law teaching Parents, Children and the Law (1996 ­ 2001), a course that examined the law of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). In 2009, upon motion of their father, he and his sister Rebecca were admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Thompson has received national and state recognition for his service on behalf of children and adoptive families. In 1999, the inaugural year of the award, Mr. Thompson and his father were recognized in Washington, D.C., with the Angel in Adoption award from the United States Congressional Coalition on Adoption. In 2005, Mr. Thompson was honored by the South Carolina Council on Adoptable Children as the Adoption Advocate of the Year, and in 2008 was inducted into the South Carolina Adoption Hall of Fame.

In 2001, Mr. Thompson was recommended by the President of the South Carolina Bar and appointed by the Governor of South Carolina as the sole private practice attorney to serve on the Adoptions Procedures Study Committee. This committee was formed through a joint resolution of the South Carolina House and Senate and was charged with amending the state adoption law. Again, in 2007, Mr. Thompson was the sole private practice attorney to be appointed by the Governor to serve on the Children in Foster Care and Adoption Services Task Force. A frequent lecturer throughout the state and country on adoption, ART, and child welfare issues, he also has testified before the South Carolina General Assembly on numerous occasions on bills impacting families and children. He is the principal drafter of the Responsible Father Registry, which was enacted into South Carolina law in 2009, and a drafter of Senate Bill 1572: legislation passed in 2010 to promote permanency for children in foster care.

In February 2008, pursuant to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, he became one of three attorneys in the nation to achieve Hague approval from the Council on Accreditation as authorized by the United States Department of State.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 1993, he served on the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 2011 ­ 2015. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys and chairs AARTA’s Ethic Code Review Committee. Both Academies are the nation’s only credentialed organizations for ART and Adoption attorneys. Mr. Thompson is the author of a book published by the South Carolina Bar entitled South Carolina Adoption Law and Practice, A Guide for Attorneys, Certified Investigators, and Families.

Mr. Thompson has a distinguished record in the area of civil litigation, having twice obtained damages awards in excess of $1 million for his clients, as well as a $3.75 million jury verdict. He was the first South Carolina attorney to obtain a damages award against the state of South Carolina that was double the statutory limits ($1.2 million) by proving that two occurrences of negligence had occurred.

He has served on the South Carolina Bar Judicial Qualifications Committee and is a Life Fellow of the South Carolina Bar Foundation. Mr. Thompson received an AV rating by Martindale­Hubbell (AV peer-review rating is awarded by Lexis Nexis Martindale­Hubbell and identifies a lawyer with high legal ability, experience, integrity and overall professional experience). He maintains offices in Spartanburg and Charleston, South Carolina.

AREAS OF PRACTICE

Mr. Thompson has a selective civil trial practice representing people who have been harmed by the negligence of others.

Mr. Thompson also has an extensive practice involving children’s law including child custody, termination of parental rights and foster parent rights. The law of assisted reproductive technologies and surrogacy is also a central component of Mr. Thompson’s practice. His practice in adoption law covers all aspects of adoption including adoptions by step­parents, grandparents, and other in family placements, international, adult, infant and agency adoptions.

CIVIC AND RELIGIOUS INVOLVEMENT

Mr. Thompson has volunteered his time with many civic, religious and child advocacy organizations, including the Children’s Advocacy Center, The Ellen Hines Smith Girls’ Home, The Family Care Council, the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Leadership Spartanburg, the Episcopal Church of the Advent Foundation (past president) and the Spartanburg Lions Club (past president).

Mr. Thompson also served as board member of the child advocacy organization Children Come First throughout its existence from 2007-2015. He also serves on the board of the Spartanburg Methodist College. He is past president of the board of Regional Hospice and chair of the fund­raising campaign to build the Home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He has also served as board member of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Foundation, chaired the planned giving initiative and has served on the Governance Committee of the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees. He is married and has three children. He is a member of the Episcopal Church of the Advent.

AUTHORED WORKS

South Carolina Adoption Law and Practice, A Guide for Attorneys, Certified Investigators, and Families (2010). (Published by the South Carolina Bar.) South Carolina’s New Responsible Father Registry: S.C. Code Ann. ” 63­9­810 and 63­9­820; South Carolina Lawyer Magazine, July 2010.

The Law, Procedure and Art of Witnessing a Consent for Adoption; South Carolina Lawyer Magazine, May 2009.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies: South Carolina Law in the Embryonic Stage; South Carolina Lawyer, March/April 1997.

South Carolina Adoption Law: Out of the Cradle into the Twenty­first Century; 40 S.C.L. Rev. 767, 1989.

PUBLISHED APPELLATE DECISIONS

Adoptive Parents v. Biological Parents, 315 S.C. 535, 446 S.E.2d 404 (1994); Amicus Curiae Brief to the South Carolina Supreme Court on behalf of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This case involved interstate adoption issues and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Doe v. Clark, 318 S.C. 274, 457 S.E.2d 336 (1995); Case involved proper procedure for execution of a consent/relinquishment for adoption.

Doe v. Brown, 331 S.C. 491, 489 S.E.2d 917 (1997); Case involved underage birth mother and birth father. Was precursor to amendment of South Carolina Code Section 20­7­1572 (11). Was first birth father case following the Abernathy decision.

Alley v. Boyd, 337 S.C. 60, 522 S.E.2d 146 (1999); Case examined the abandonment section of the Termination of Parental Rights Statute.

Pike v. S.C. Department of Transportation, 343 S.C. 224, 540 S.E.2d 87 (2000); Wrongful death verdict affirmed where State of South Carolina pled discretionary immunity. Plaintiff allowed to collect damages in excess of South Carolina Tort Claims Act statutory cap on damages.

Brown v. Malloy, 345 S.C. 113, 546 S.E.2d 195 (2001); Case examined John Doe birth father constitutional rights.

Doe v. Queen, 342 S.C. 204, 535 S.E.2d 658 (S.C. App. 2000).

Doe v. Queen, 347 S.C. 4, 552 S.E.2d 761 (2001); Court found that the birth father had no knowledge of the pregnancy. Therefore, was forgiven for lack of pre­placement support.

Arscott v. Bacon, 351 S.C. 44, 567 S.E.2d 898 (2002); This case established birth fathers’ affirmative duty to learn of a pregnancy and to be proactive in protecting their rights. This decision also observed that pre­placement conduct of a birth father determines whether his consent is required.

Doe v. Ward Law Firm, PA., 353 S.C. 509, 579 S.E.2d 303 (2003); This case established the Family

Court’s jurisdiction to appoint a confidential intermediator to obtain birth history on an adoptee. This is the only case in South Carolina where adoption records were opened.

Doe v. Roe, 369 S.C. 351, 631 S.E.2d 317 (2006); This case established that a birth father’s contributions to birth mother cannot be insubstantial and inconsistent.

McCann v. Jane and John Doe, 377 S.C. 373, 660 S.E.2d 500 (2008); Case described legal standard by which coercion/duress would be analyzed ­ ­ Court moved from improper external pressure to totality of the circumstances.

Michael Scott v. Melissa M., 378 S.C. 452, 663 S.E.2d 58 (2008); Case affirmed the Family Court’s termination of birth mother’s parental rights and established Court’s Jurisdiction to award attorney fees in the termination of parental rights case.

Boiter v. S.C. Department. of Transportation and S.C. Department or Public Safety, 393 S.C. 123, 712 S.E.2d 401 (2011); Personal injury action against two state entities. First South Carolina appellate case to find that two occurrences existed thereby enabling the Plaintiffs to collect twice the statutory cap imposed by the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a minor child under the age of fourteen years, Birth Father, and the Cherokee Nation, 398 S.C. 625, 731 S.E.2d 550 (2012); known as the Baby Veronica case, co­authored Amicus Curiae Brief to the South Carolina Supreme Court on behalf of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This case involved issues related to the Indian Child Welfare Act. On remand from the United States Supreme Court, Couple v. Girl, 133 S.Ct. 2552, 186 L.Ed.2d 729, 81 USLW 4590 (2013), Mr. Thompson represented Adoptive Couple before the South Carolina Supreme Court and finalized the adoption before the Charleston County Family Court on July 31, 2013.

Jennifer Brown v. Baby Girl Harper, a minor under the age of seven, and Holly Lawrence, 409 S.C. 470, 761 S.E.2d 779 (S.C. App. 2014); The court unanimously affirmed the Family Court’s determination that the consent to adoption executed by the biological mother was invalid because (1) the attorney ­witness was not present when the biological mother executed the document and (2) the witnesses failed to observe the statutorily­-required discussion of the provisions of the consent document. Mr. Thompson represented the biological mother.

Jennifer Brown v. Baby Girl Harper, a minor under the age of seven, and Holly Lawrence, Appellate Case No. 2014­001746, Opinion No. 27448, In the Supreme Court of South Carolina; The court unanimously affirmed the Family Court and the Court of Appeals in finding the consent to adoption executed by the biological mother was invalid and ordered the child’s custody be transferred to the biological mother.

PRESENTATIONS

Parents, Children and the Law (Laws 631); Guest Lecturer; University of South Carolina School of Law, 1991­1994, Columbia, South Carolina.

Private Adoptions; Faculty; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, April 1, 1994, Columbia, South Carolina.

South Carolina Council on Adoptable Children; Guest Lecturer on Adoption Law for statewide adoption information program: November 1994, Greenville, South Carolina; January 1995, Rock Hill, South Carolina; February 1995, Florence, South Carolina; April 1995, Columbia, South Carolina; September 1995, Aiken, South Carolina; October 1995, Columbia, South Carolina.

American Academy of Adoption Attorneys Convention; Faculty; Presented survey of law for fourteen southern states at national convention, Atlanta, Georgia, April 1995.

South Carolina Department of Social Services; Guest Lecturer; Presented lecture on Termination of Parental Rights, Adoption and Foster Parents issues to agency social workers, September 1995.

Adoption: Ethical Considerations and Special Issues; Faculty; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, January 14, 1997, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption Law in South Carolina; Faculty; Professional Development Network, January 14, 1999, Columbia, South Carolina.

Potholes on the Road to Adoption; Faculty; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, May 21, 1999, Columbia, South Carolina.

Thorns in the Adoption Garden; Faculty; South Carolina Family Court Bench/Bar, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, December 3, 1999, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption Law in South Carolina; Faculty; National Business Institute, November 16, 2000, Charleston, South Carolina; May 9, 2002, Charleston, South Carolina.

Orientation School for New Family Court Judges; Guest Speaker; Overview of South Carolina Adoption Law, 2002­2005, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption in South Carolina: Insight for the Non­legal Professional; Faculty; Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Department of Education; November 21, 2002, Spartanburg, South Carolina; October

24, 2003, Columbia, South Carolina; November 5, 2004, Greenville, South Carolina; November 10, 2006, Columbia, South Carolina.

Family Law Training; Faculty; South Carolina Appleseed; Overview and Procedures regarding handling a DSS adoption, August 29, 2003, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption is Affordable to All­­Here=s How; Faculty; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, September 23, 2005, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption Law & Practice in South Carolina; Faculty; Medical Educational Services, Inc., November 7, 2005, Columbia, South Carolina.

Adoption in South Carolina: Insight for the Non­legal Professional; Faculty; Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Education, November 11, 2005, Charleston, South Carolina.

Bond v. Blood: The Evolving Primacy of The Best Interest of the Child Standard and the Decreasing Role of the Biological Connection in TPR and Adoption Law; South Carolina Bar Convention, January 26, 2007, Charleston, South Carolina.

Children’s Issues in Family Court; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education, March 23, 2007, Columbia, South Carolina.

Opening of Adoption Records: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know; South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association, August 2, 2007, Hilton Head, South Carolina.

A New Route for Inter­country Adoption; American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Annual Conference, May 1, 2008, St. Louis, Missouri.

Adoption Laws in South Carolina; South Carolina Council on Adoptable Children 23rd Annual Adoption Conference Pathways to Permanency, May 8, 2008, Charleston, South Carolina.

Representing Foreign Nationals in SC Family and Criminal Court: International and Domestic Adoptions Involving International Parties; South Carolina Bar, July 25, 2008, Columbia, South Carolina.

Creating Families Forever: The How to of the Adoption Process; Faculty; The South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, October 9, 2008, Columbia, South Carolina.

Federal and Regional Adoption and ARTs Law Updates; Presenter; American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Annual Conference, April 30, 2009, Portland, Oregon.

Child Welfare in South Carolina: The Responsible Father Registry and Other Legislative Developments; South Carolina Bar Convention, January 23, 2010, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

South Carolina Adoption Law and Practice, A Guide for Attorneys, Certified Investigators, and Families (2010); South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, October 29, 2010, Columbia, South Carolina.

The Law of Assisted Reproductive Technologies; 2010 Family Court Bench/Bar Seminar, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, December 3, 2010, Columbia, South Carolina.

Advanced Family Law; Guest Lecturer; University of South Carolina School of Law, 2011, 2012, and 2013, Columbia, South Carolina.

Children’s Advocacy and Family Law Society; Guest Lecturer; Charleston School of Law, 2011 and 2012, Charleston, South Carolina.

Advanced Domestic Relations; Guest Lecturer; Charleston Law School, 2011 and 2012, Charleston, South Carolina.

The Legal Theory Puzzle; Which Piece Best Fits Your Case: Fitness, Custody, Termination of Parental Rights or Adoption; South Carolina Bar Convention, January 22, 2011, Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Adoption & the Role of the Local/County Attorney; South Carolina Department of Social Services Office of General Counsel, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, February 11, 2011, Columbia, South Carolina.

22nd Annual Conference, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and 2nd Annual Conference, American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys; co­chair; May 4 ­ May 7, 2011, Savannah, Georgia.

The Guardian ad Litem’s Role in Adoptions; 2012 Guardian ad Litem Training and Update, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, January 27, 2012, Columbia, South Carolina.

Fee Agreements in Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology; 23rd Annual Conference, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and 3rd Annual Conference, American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, May 3, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Achieving Permanence for the Children of Non­Traditional Families Through Adoption, 2012 Hot Tips from the Coolest Domestic Law Practitioners; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, September 28, 2012, Columbia, South Carolina.

Special Issues in Child Welfare Proceedings: Responsible Father’s Registry; South Carolina Department of Social Services Seminar, December 7, 2012, Columbia, South Carolina.

Birth­Parent Relinquishments in Adoption: Life­Altering Decisions Influenced by Hormones, Emotion and Pain Medication. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Seminar, September 30, 2013, sponsored by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

Adoption Law: Start to Finish; Faculty; National Business Institute, November 18, 2013, Columbia, South Carolina.

How Responsible are the Fathers Three Years Later/Responsible Father Registry; 2013 Family Court Bench/Bar Seminar, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, December 6, 2013, Columbia, South Carolina.

Creating a Family Radio, Adopting through an Adoption Lawyer; December 18, 2013, Podcast found at: http://www.creatingafamily.org/radioshow/adopting through an adoption lawyer.html.

Traps in Adoption Cases; Greenville County Bar Year End Continuing Legal Education, February 14, 2014, Greenville, South Carolina.

Boiter v. SC Dot; Redefining Occurrences; Greenville County Bar Year End Continuing Legal Education, February 14, 2014, Greenville, South Carolina.

When Something Goes Wrong; Guidance on Unforeseen Problems, Adoption Law in South Carolina and Beyond; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, August 1, 2014, Columbia, South Carolina.

Avoiding Legal Liability for Certified Adoption Investigators and Social Workers; Family Building Through Adoption & Assisted Reproduction; October 17, 2014, Columbia, South Carolina.

South Carolina Family Law; Guest Lecturer; Charleston School of Law, November 17, 2014-2016, Charleston, South Carolina.

Representation of Parties in Multiple Jurisdictions­ Ethical Issues in ART Practice; Annual Meeting of American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, April 28, 2015, St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Substantial Inscrease in Surrogacy Cases in South Carolina; International Bar Association, IBA Annual Conference, October, 2015, Vienna.

Same-Sex Marriage Has Come to South Carolina- Family Building for Same-Sex Families; 2015 Family Court Bench/Bar Seminar, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, December 4, 2015.

Establishing an Ethical ART Practice: Setting Protocols for the “Rubik’s Cube” of ART Scenarios; Annual Meeting of American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, May 6, 2016, Denver, Colorado.

The Role of the GAL in TPR and Adoption Cases; 2017 Guardian ad Litem Training and Update, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, January 27, 2017, Columbia, South Carolina.

The “Modern Family” II: The Fundamentals of Representing Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Clients; South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, March 24, 2017, Columbia, South Carolina.

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