feel as indignant as those who are."
- King Solomon
A letter to the SC Senate Judiciary Committee
March 14, 2005
Thank you for responding to my recent letter expressing my experiences and concerns regarding the compact probation status of Brandon Lee Brogan. I realize that the judicial committee is not responsible, nor can it change the fact that Brogan was given this undeserved privilege of probation, nor the fact that this probation is now in the hands of another state. However, I do feel that the judicial committee should be aware of the failings of this system. I had heard numerous times that Senator McConnell was a fair and honest man and probably the most powerful of all of the South Carolina senators and I did so hope that my letter might bring to light the incompetence, the deceit, re-victimization that those of us who have suffered the ultimate loss. We, as a family, have suffered a multitude of blunders regarding the probation of, not only Brogan but Mark Daniel Urban, as well. I am quite aware that Urban finally has been made to be accountable, somewhat, for his participation in the death of my son, but I also know that if I had not called, written, nagged as it were, nothing, absolutely nothing would have ever be done. I wish that were not the case, but the shame of it all, is that it is.
Brandon Lee Brogan has not been in compliance since his probation sentence was handed down. I do not know how detailed the records are kept as far as the probation department goes so therefore numerous facts may be missing from his case file. Did they tell you that Brandon Lee Brogan had actually quit high school at the time of his sentencing? Judge John evidently didn't know this, or care, when he ordered, as a condition of Brogan's probation, that he complete his high school diploma. Does the case file reflect that fact?
After Brogan Urban were sentenced in February of 2004, no one in probation (SC or WV) even knew if Brogan had graduated in May, as was implied as a requirement of his probation as of August that same year. When I asked the question, then someone started checking. What if I had never asked the question? It was September of 2004 before anyone even knew or cared that Brogan had not graduated . After my numerous calls and letters, SC probation authorities encouraged Brandon Lee Brogan to get enrolled in school. I have been told now that Judge John doesn't care when he graduates just so he does within the five years of his probation. Certainly didn't sound that way when we were in court and I seriously doubt that is what the Judge intended.
The West Virginia Dept of Probation initially refused Brandon Lee Brogan's supervision. This information was not made known until three months after sentencing. The reason, told to me by West Virginia Probation Department, for not supervising Brogan was that he had moved out of the state. WV Probation Department didn't even know the whereabouts of Mark Daniel Urban, Jr. and therefore refused his supervision as well.
As of May, 2004, three months after sentencing, one year after running down my son and leaving him laying in your public street, neither Brogan nor Urban had been supervised, nor had reported, nor had been drug tested, nor suffered any consequence of their crime. WV Probation stated that Brogan "had moved out of state" and "Urban could not be found at his official residence". It has never been explained to me why neither of these facts is considered a violation of their probation. Then SC Probation tells me that Brogan really hadn't moved out of state, but lived in government housing, and therefore, was not qualified to be supervised by WV. So he is suppose to move to his grandmother's house. I'm surprised SC probation didn't get him his own apartment. Does anyone know if he is staying at his grandmother's residence now? No!
Yes, I called West Virginia probation and South Carolina probation on a regular basis and, as if by a miracle, SC probation agents found them and then claimed to have been in constant contact with Brogan and Urban. Their paperwork was then re-submitted to West Virginia Probation. West Virginia probation department thought Urban was in SC because he never was at the address that he had given as his official address. Resubmission of paperwork to West Virginia required another three months. We were told we must wait to learn if West Virginia Probation would agree to supervise them. I would hope that you would ask the question: What if West Virginia refused to supervise Brogan and/or Urban again? What would happen then? If I was not constantly calling the probation authorities, don't you imagine that Brogan and Urban would just be able to slip through the cracks of this already dysfunctional bureaucratic disaster? As if by a miracle again, SC probation has requested that all this paperwork to WV probation is now going to be expedited....WHY? because I call every week? Because I send letters all over the country? Because we have a website for my son and tell the whole world how broken the system is? What about those victims' families that do not have the wherewithal to even do that. The public doesn't know what really happens and cannot even fathom the reality of what a mess our judicial system is in.
I am well aware that at this time, Mark Daniel Urban, Jr., is serving five years active jail time with another five years added to his sentence after his confinement because he had violated very single condition of his probation according to Judge John. However, he would still be committing his crimes and totaling cars if we had not followed through with calls, letters and paying constant vigilance to their probation requirements. Finally he was found to be in violation and picked up. SC Compact Director, Ann Hyde, did do what she said and issued a warrant and agreed to extradite Urban back to SC for yet another trial after his lawful bail bond hearing, of course . What would have become of Urban's violations of his probation if the State of SC was not willing to extradite him back to SC?
There are so many aspects to this case that are all protect because of the way the laws are written to shield the criminal and their rights. The compact probation agreement with another state is just one aspect of the injustice that our family has endured. Just one! I would suppose that I should be very grateful that my complaints to the Judicial Commission did in some way contribute to Judge Philip Hudson of Myrtle Beach City Court being disciplined for his unlawful deeds. I do not understand why charges were not brought against him.
Did you know that your probation department doesn't even know the probation requirements of the supervising state? That information doesn't seem to be a concern as long as the responsibility can be farmed out.
Did you know that the supervising state only reports once a year? Do you know how the originating state even knows if a report is due? Do you know it is the supervising state that determines if any violations are even reported, and then, the offender has to be caught in his violations? Who decides if a violation is serious enough to even be reported? Did you know that some probationers are only contacted through mailed reports? Does any one even care if those who are on probation are even followed-up on at all? Don't fool yourself into thinking any of this probationary supervision is run like a fine oiled machine or even an enterprising business, but more like an overworked, under-funded, apathetic staff working with an antiquated tracking system that has gotten totally out of control. The probation system is a farce, a sick joke to fool the public into thinking that justice is being served; a dumping ground for criminals to avoid any reasonable punishment and an inexcusable failure on the part of the State of SC in enforcing the incarceration that should be enforced-- inexcusable failure in even implementing the supervision of their own responsibility to Justice.
I have been told by SC probation authorities that I am not allowed to know who is supervising the probation of the killers of my son, yet another probation authority in the same department told me that there is no reason, nor any law, that says that I can't know who is supervising my son's killers. I have been told that I will be notified if the felons move, violate, or drop dead. I have been told to the contrary, that I will not be notified of such events. Well, which is it? Does anyone know or do they just make up the rules as they think them up? Where are the guidelines that they work by? I want to see them. I feel like I have a right to see them. The public has a right to know.
Did you know that police, if stopping a convicted felon that is on probation, don't have any way to know that this person is a convicted felon and/or on probation, unless the felon confesses that information to the police? This is what I was told by a West Virginia Sheriff's Department deputy and also by the West Virginia State Police. Did you know that a background check does not reveal all of the pending charges that haven't been to court yet, nor does it reveal warrants that have been dismissed because the defendant is already in jail? Did you know the NCIC only includes criminals that have active warrants, not felons that are currently on probation or parole?
SC Dept of Motor Vehicles did not notify the WV Dept of Motor Vehicles that Brogan was suppose to have his license suspended. I learned that it is up to the supervising state as to whether or not their laws even dictate suspension of driver's license for killing someone by hit and run. Letter after letter, phone call after phone call, was required by me for anyone to even consider the fact that Brogan's license suspension had not taken place. Yes, finally, 15 months after killing my son, Brogan's license was suspended for one year. Does he still have privileges that would allow him to drive? Who knows? Did you know that the State of SC doesn't even care that the vehicle that killed my son was uninsured? Did anyone, such as the police or solicitor, make any mention of that fact, or issue a traffic citation for this infraction? I was told that the State of SC doesn't have any authority over that because the car was licensed in another state. Pathetic.
No one in our family was issued a Victim's number nor even given any information about Victim's rights. I did not even know there was such a service until my complaints to your state Governor Mark Sanford, were responded to by his Ombudsman. The only Victim Advocates we had talked with gave us bogus information regarding proposed court appearances and proper court attire. We thought they were inefficient, not so bright office secretaries representing the different judicial officials because they certainly were not representing us. Oh yes, and let me not forget to mention the Victim Advocate for the City of Myrtle Beach that actually turned his back on us at the original Bail Bond Hearing and refused to communicate with us at all. The response to the complaint filed against this advocate was dismissed as "he told authorities that I was emotional". Would you not suspect that a mother whose son had been run down, killed and left in the street like a piece of debris, would be emotional? Did you know that your victim's advocate program and the salaries that are paid to them are a waste of taxpayer's money? I have yet to talk with a victim's family that has any respect or trust in any of your advocates. I have this year communicated with your State Victim Advocate Veronica Swain regarding our Victim Assistance number and the lack of any assistance, but after months of waiting for a response, I can only assume that she too doesn't follow through.
After three weeks of waiting for the Horry County Court Reporter to pick up her certified mail that I had sent, as required to order court transcripts of the original trial of Brogan and Urban, I made repeated calls to the Horry County Court Administration Department and was eventually told that this Court Reporter never received the certified letter. The postmaster at her post office tells a much different story, and finally, after contacting the SC Attorney General, calling my NC Congressman and filing a formal complaint with the SC Supreme Court with appropriate copies, did this court reporter pick up with certified letter the last day before the Post Office was to returned it to me as being undeliverable. Her post office read out to me, over the phone, all of the dates of the notices to her that had been put in her mailbox, but were ignored by her. Perhaps you should also be aware that your court reporters in county courts request that checks be made out to them personally and mailed to their home addresses, not the County Office, and therefore more than likely do not get reported to Internal Revenue, must less your state tax department. I have, for a second time, had to file a complaint and repeat the process with this same court reporter to request a transcript of the Probation Revocation Hearing. I requested a court transcript of the revocation hearing of Mark Daniel Urban. I included location, date, judge, all the identifying details and a deposit check of $50, which I knew, was required. This request was mailed on January 5, 2005, and my check was cashed on February 5 th. Two weeks later I was sent a notice from this court reporter stating erroneous information as to the transcript I had requested (wrong court date, transcript, etc.,) and she requested I sent a deposit check (which she had already received and cashed). Needless to say, I again filed a complaint and requested follow-up. I certainly did not want to talk with these people anymore over the phone. I mailed the complaint on February 15 and as of today March 14, 2005 I have not received a reply, a phone call, a transcript or acknowledgement of any of the above. I have called the SC Attorney General's office only to be told that they didn't know who or what I could do at this point. I don't either.
Upset, angry, disgusted and grieving! Yes, all of these emotions are relived every day when I think of my son's death as being treated as an ordinary traffic violation, even to be asked by Myrtle Beach police as to whether or not I was calling about a routine "hit and run"? Disgusting!
After 667 days of dealing with the inefficiency of the SC judicial system, I should not be surprised, but it never ceases to amaze me that no one in the "system" has any knowledge of "the flow, or lack of flow, of their own departments or procedures within their own departments.
So what about Brogan and his probation violations? Why are Brogan's and Urban's crimes considered "non-violent"? Why isn't a driver who races through the dark city streets with no lights on in his high performance "weapon of choice", a Mustang .....not be considered a violent offender? To know you have severely injured someone.....my son on his motorcycle was thrown over their car.....they knew this and yet they never slowed down.......does that sound non-violent? Bouncing a check is non-violent, littering is non-violent, and insider trading is non-violent. Even Webster defines "non-violent" as achieved without bloodshed. Could my son be any less dead?
Brenda B. Jarman