Small firm dedication
You deserve an attorney who is responsive and resourceful that will put your needs first.
Criminal defense, family law, and personal injury representation in Charleston, SC.
Ready and waiting to address your urgent legal needs. Schwartz Law Firm can help.

SC parents work to reconnect with toddler son after child abuse probe pulled them apart

Watching young Foxx Coker pad around his Johns Island home, clutching his favorite toy dog and dancing to the theme of SpongeBob SquarePants, his parents can’t help but think of all the little moments like this they have missed over the past two years.

His first steps. His first words. His first taste of solid food. Moments forever lost amid a swirl of accusations and heartache.

Foxx was just 2 months old when the state Department of Social Services whisked him away in May 2017 after a variety of broken bones in his body led to suspicions of child abuse. Then, a judge unexpectedly returned him to his parents Wednesday after a medical expert testified that the boy’s injuries resulted from a bone-weakening case of nutritional rickets, not physical abuse.

Now the blond-haired toddler is home, scattering his toys about the house, high-fiving people with his tiny hands and scurrying along after his parents on walks to a pond on the rural, 12-acre property where they live.

He’s already spent more time with them than he has since he was placed in protective custody and shuttled through a series of foster homes. During that time, his parents were allowed to see Foxx for two hours each month in a DSS facility while case workers watched from behind two-way mirrors.

“He knew who we were,” said his father Joshua Coker. “But there is no way you can truly bond with someone in two hours a month.”

That’s just 24 hours in a year, he said. The equivalent of a single day.

They would watch as the foster parents’ car pulled away with Foxx inside after each visit. It was like the moment he’d been stripped from them was being played on an endless loop, his mother, Ashley Joyner, said.

“It’s been awful,” she said, shaking her head. “An absolute nightmare.”

Coker and Joyner say they are thrilled to have Foxx home again, savoring every moment and trying to concentrate on a brighter future that suddenly lies ahead of them. As they fought efforts to terminate their parental rights in Charleston County Family Court, they weren’t expecting to walk out the door with Foxx the same week. They figured they would be ordered into a treatment plan replete with parenting classes, drug testing and other hurdles to prove their competence.

shley Joyner plays with her son Foxx Coker

Instead, Judge Michele Forsythe blasted DSS for failing to back up allegations of abuse with solid evidence, the family’s attorneys said. She ordered DSS to return Foxx to his parents immediately and provide the family with a year’s counseling to help with their reunification.

“We’re parents again,” Joyner said. “And we’re going to raise the best little boy we can.”

Not everyone shares the family’s joy. Critics of the judge’s decision and skeptics of the rickets diagnosis have expressed outrage over the ruling and the speed with which Foxx was returned to his parents. Rumors have swirled over what’s in the child’s medical records as others point to two misdemeanor assault convictions in the father’s past, the most recent of which was in 2013.

State Rep. Nancy Mace, a Daniel Island Republican, said the system failed in one way or another. Either the boy was improperly taken from his family at a tender age or the judge erred in sending him back into what could be a precarious situation. Either way, someone should be held accountable, she said.

“This is a miscarriage of justice on one side or the other,” she said.

Concerning injuries
The family’s long journey started, Joyner said, when she discovered her infant’s son left leg was swollen one day, though without signs of obvious bruising. They ended up at Medical University Hospital, where doctors informed them that Foxx had a leg fracture. The medical staff didn’t mention at the time that X-rays had pinpointed several other fractures as well. But soon, DSS investigators arrived on the scene and began questioning Joyner and Coker about the injuries, the couple said.

They were caught off guard by the sudden scrutiny but were confident, they said, that authorities would realize their suspicions were misplaced. That didn’t happen. Foxx was soon placed in protective custody.

A few weeks later, Charleston County sheriff’s deputies moved in to arrest the couple on suspicion of child abuse after testing failed to pinpoint a medical condition that could have caused the injuries and doctors pointed to signs of possible trauma, according to arrest affidavits.

After news of the arrests broke, the couple received death threats over social media, Coker said. Joyner said anger, depression and stress set in, and she grew uncomfortable even venturing out to the grocery store. Foxx had been their “miracle baby,” as Joyner, 27, had a medical condition that doctors said would prevent her from having a child. How could people think they would harm him, they wondered.

Still, they remained convinced that authorities would realize at some point they had made a mistake, they said.


“Obviously, it was going to be tough no matter what, but we just had to get the truth out there,” Coker said. “And I was confident that one way or another, no matter how long it took, he would be coming home.”

Their attorneys said they cooperated with authorities in every way they could. They took and passed polygraph tests, and they asked to testify in court even though it meant waving their 5th Amendment protections with criminal charges still looming, said John Duffy, an attorney for Joyner.

Coker, a 29-year-old cook, said he didn’t mind the scrutiny or questions about his past criminal record, which he chalked up to bad decisions as a young man. “I’m not the same person I was back then,” he said.

Another explanation
Their luck changed after their attorneys found a California orthopedic surgeon who agreed to review Foxx’s X-rays. The doctor, an expert in bone disorders, concluded with certainty that Foxx’s 16 fractures were caused by rickets brought on by a vitamin D deficiency, Abigail Duffy, an attorney for Joyner, said.

Nutritional rickets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been considered rare in the U.S. since the introduction of vitamin D-fortified milk and infant formula. But the disease has seen a rise in occurrences in the past several decades, according to recent research by the Mayo Clinic. If a mother breastfeeds her child and does not give formula or supplement the milk with vitamin D, rickets can develop in the first month or two of life, experts said.

Joyner said she breastfed Foxx but used a soy supplement with little vitamin D because her son had trouble digesting standard formula.

The couple’s attorneys contend that MUSC waited too long to test Foxx for vitamin D deficiency, which led to a misdiagnosis of his injuries, and DSS was unwilling to entertain explanations other than abuse.

“The villains in this case are Charleston County DSS and MUSC,” William H. Nixon Jr., an attorney for Joyner, said in an email to lawmakers and The Post and Courier. “They utterly and completely failed to handle this case properly.”

DSS and MUSC have declined to discuss specifics of the case, citing privacy laws.

Ryan Schwartz, an attorney for Coker, said he hopes this case leads to reforms in how DSS handles cases, and makes pediatricians think carefully before concluding that something is child abuse.

“Just because it looks like something doesn’t mean it is,” Coker said. “All avenues need to be examined before you come to a conclusion.”

“Also, people make mistakes,” Joyner said.

Coker nodded. “Even doctors.”

For now, Joyner and Cox are concentrating on the future, not what’s been lost. They plan to throw a big party for Foxx on his birthday in early March. And holidays this year will be extra special events.

“You are going to be very spoiled this year,” Coker told his son with a laugh.

Gregory Yee contributed to this article.

Criminal Defense Attorney Dorchester County DUI Lawyer

When you consider the possible outcome for non-representation, the benefits of having a Dorchester County criminal defense attorney become apparent. There are numerous advantages to employing the use of a criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer in Dorchester county when you find yourself needing legal representation. In Dorchester County, there is no need to face the complicated judicial system unprepared and alone.

In South Carolina, DUI laws are meant to deter irresponsible drinking whenever there is a need to engage in driving activities. This encompasses the social drinker who makes the mistake of having a drink and winding up behind the wheel. Officers are allowed to initiate a drunk-driving arrest, simply on the basis of suspicion of being impaired.

If you are pulled over for suspicion of being under the influence, you may be instructed to take a breathalyzer test. This test will determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusing to submit to the test could result in a civil action, and the state may seek to suspend your driver’s license. But taking the blood alcohol test and failing it will also have negative consequences. This is why you need a Dorchester County DUI lawyer to come to your defense. If your BAC is over .08, you will likely be on your way to the police station.

Criminal and Civil Charges

There is no doubt that there could possibly be severe consequences if you are charged with driving under the influence in the county of Dorchester. There could actually be criminal and civil penalties to pay, following the outcome of your legal case. Without a good DUI and criminal defense attorney, you could easily find yourself facing large fines, jail time, or both. However, the right Dorchester County dui lawyer can help you win your case, or at least receive less severe penalties. Mandatory substance abuse treatment or community service may not be the most desirable sentences, but they are much better than the alternatives.

Depending on the circumstances of your case (and the level of BAC), it is actually possible to still lose your license, even though you win the DUI case. This fact alone is reason enough for you to seek out a good Dorchester county criminal defense attorney and dui lawyer. Notice the possible consequences that can result from a DUI charge or conviction.
Possible Consequences Include:

* Suspended driver’s license
* Revoked driver’s license
* Related violation and legal fines
* Increase in auto insurance premiums
* Loss of job
* Incarceration

Benefits of Representation

As you can see from the information previously discussed, there are many benefits of having legal representation, especially when dealing with a DUI case in Dorchester county.

They can help you when you are first arrested and continue fighting in your behalf, right until the end. You won’t have to be in the dark about the charges you are facing, and the possible outcomes, both favorable and not so favorable.

The DUI or criminal defense attorney on the case will help point out the best options for you, and work hard to plan the best strategic defense. After a thorough examination of the details of your case, you may be surprised to learn that your attorney can help you achieve a better outcome.

One strategy that your attorney might recommend after reviewing your case is to have the DUI charge challenged. This means going to court and having a jury trial. Your counsel will be there to use all the legal knowledge they have, to get you an acquittal. Clearly this is the most desired outcome.

Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County DUI Lawyer

Being an accused in a criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean your conviction. While it may cause both physical and emotional exhaustion on your part and on the part of your family, you should not give up and fight for your own rights. If you are in need of direction and support upon notification of criminal charges filed against you in Berkeley County, finding a good criminal defense attorney Berkeley County should be your first step.

Tips in Finding Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County

Here are some essential tips to help you find a good lawyer who can defend your case and help you obtain reasonable judgment:

1. Look for experts
Just as other professionals, lawyers are experts in their own chosen field of practice. While some lawyers are very effective in defending civil cases, they may not be as good in defending criminal cases. Hiring criminal law experts as your defense lawyer in Berkeley County is a major advantage in increasing your chances of obtaining a fair and good judgment.

Among the most common charges filed against citizens is driving under the influence or commonly known as DUI. By hiring an expert Berkeley County DUI Lawyer, your rights are better protected during prosecution and you can obtain better support with the issue regarding suspension of your license.

2. Know more about the lawyer
Upon visiting websites of Berkeley County criminal defense lawyers, you can find a portion for live chats. Opening the site and going for live chats can help you know more about your case, including charges, expenses and other essential matters. Live chats can also help you determine whether the lawyer can be someone you can work with for the settlement of your case or not.
Lawyer’s websites also provide pages for client testimonials. Taking some time to read these pages can help you know more about the lawyer and whether you should hire him or not.

Benefits of Hiring a Good Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County

Finding a good lawyer is a must for the following reasons:

1. Effective representation
A lawyer serves as a client’s spokesperson in court. This means that your lawyer speaks on your behalf when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It is very important for you to hire a criminal lawyer you trust for effective representation. By having a good relationship with your lawyer, your voice can be heard more effectively in court.

2. Protection of rights
As an accused in a criminal prosecution, you are afforded constitutional rights which must be protected at all times. With the help of a good criminal defense lawyer, you can be assured of a sufficient protection and support.

3. Long-term relationship
Working with a good Berkeley County criminal defense lawyer helps establish a relationship that can last for a very long time. With a good working relationship, you can always have an advocate in the halls of justice.

There’s no better person who can help you fight for your rights under the law than a good criminal defense attorney Berkeley County. Find one today.