Dedicated to providing the highest level of appellate advocacy for people convicted of state and federal crimes
SC Appellate Law Group, LLC is dedicated to providing the highest level of appellate advocacy for people convicted of state and federal crimes. We use a team approach in servicing our clients to ensure that every possible legal strategy is considered as we fight for our clients’ legal rights and their lives. Everyone who works at SCALG, LLC is a committed criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of aggressive advocacy and appellate success. Our firm also recognizes that inmates have unique needs due to their incarceration, and we work to assist our clients with whatever needs may arise while they’re challenging their convictions. We also recognize the burdens incarceration places on family members, and we have committed ourselves to assisting family members in understanding their loved ones’ situations. We keep family members up to date with developments through our case management system. Working together we provide our clients with the high level expertise and compassion they need as they challenge their convictions and seek their freedom.
Elizabeth is an experienced appellate litigator who has argued serious felony and capital cases in the South Carolina Supreme Court, South Carolina Court of Appeals, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the New York State Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Wyoming. She regularly handles federal habeas cases in the District of South Carolina. She currently also represents capital defendants in the state and federal courts of Mississippi. She is licensed in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeal. First licensed in New York in 2001, she has been practicing in South Carolina, her home state, since 2004. She has always been a criminal defense lawyer.
Elizabeth started this firm because she has seen– firsthand — how most advocacy on behalf of criminal defendants focuses on the more public aspects of their cases—their trials and bond hearings, and the pre-trial publicity that often accompanies high profile cases. Less attention to paid to those who have been convicted of crimes, yet our prisons are overflowing with inmates who cases are infected with legal error or whose convictions or sentences constitute injustices. This firm will help those clients and their families. Elizabeth has brought together other committed advocates who understand the unique challenges our clients face and who will provide the highest level of service and excellence in handling client cases. We work in teams so that we can ensure that no stone will be left uncovered as we seek creative and aggressive strategies to challenge convictions and sentences.
Elizabeth is currently on the Board of Directors for Justice 360, a nonprofit located in Columbia, South Carolina dedicated to advancing the rights of death row inmates and juvenile defendants. She is also Co-Chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Amicus Committee for the Fourth Circuit. She is on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. She also has her own firm, Elizabeth Franklin-Best, P.C. that focuses almost exclusively on federal criminal cases. She is also Of Counsel for Adams & Bischoff, LLC, a Charleston, SC criminal defense firm.
Eleanor “Ellen” Duffy Cleary
Eleanor “Ellen” Duffy Cleary is a solo practitioner in Columbia, South Carolina. She focuses her practice on criminal defense, both at the trial level and the post-conviction level. She represents clients before municipal, magistrate, and general sessions courts, as well as administrative boards and appellate courts. She has also appeared numerous times before the board of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services. As a former contract counsel for the SC Department of Workers’ Compensation, she prosecuted employers who failed to comply with the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
After receiving her juris doctorate and being admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1994, Ellen began working full-time for the South Carolina Senate’s Office of Senate Research. In that capacity, she researched and drafted legislation and staffed legislative committees. In November 2000, she began working as an appellate defender at the Office of Appellate Defense (now a division of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense). She argued on behalf of indigents convicted of state crimes, ranging from murder to possession of drugs. She has argued dozens of times before the South Carolina Court of Appeals and the SC Supreme Court. She has submitted briefs on numerous legal issues relating to substantive and procedural criminal law. She has been in private practice since 2008.
Ellen particularly enjoys helping clients who are up for parole get a second chance at life outside of prison.
She was a member of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (SCACDL) and the Richland County Bar Association. Ellen is admitted to practice in all South Carolina Courts, the United District Court for the District of South Carolina, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Ellen has an AV Preeminent (4.9) rating, which is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that her peers rank her at the highest level of professional excellence. AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.
Melanie C. Regis
Melanie C. Regis started her advocacy career as a Co-Op intern with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state public defender agency in Massachusetts. The internship was during Melanie’s third year of law school. At that time, Melanie (always one to root for the underdog) realized that she wanted to dedicate her legal career to representing people often marginalized and de-humanized by the criminal justice system. After being hired by the public defender agency, Melanie worked as a staff attorney for ten years in Middlesex and Worcester counties, representing people in both the district and superior courts at the trial level. In 2019, Melanie relocated to her home state of South Carolina and opened a virtual law firm. Since opening Regis Law Firm LLC, Melanie has continued to represent individuals in Massachusetts, but at the post-conviction level handling direct appeals, motions for new trial and parole proceedings. Melanie is also an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law. Melanie graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in 2003 and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in 2007. Melanie has an active license to practice in Massachusetts. Melanie will be sitting for the South Carolina bar in February 2022.
Kelsey E. Lewis
Kelsey E. Lewis earned a dual law (Juris Doctor) and Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from California Western School of Law and San Diego State University, respectively, in 2013. The same year she was admitted to the bar of the State of California, followed by the United States District Courts for the Southern and Central Districts of California in 2014. Thereafter, in 2016, she was admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and subsequently, to the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2017.
After several years working as a trial-level state and federal criminal defense attorney, Kelsey has since committed her practice to post-conviction and criminal appellate work. She is extensively experienced in criminal and quasi-criminal matters and is also formally trained and experienced in mitigation assessment, conducting biopsychosocial assessments and report writing, as well as trauma and emergency case management in the domestic violence setting. Kelsey has utilized these skills, in conjunction with her acclaimed legal writing and research skills, to her clients’ benefits and has a documented record of success in achieving favorable outcomes in criminal matters in various jurisdictions across the country. Kelsey has further served as a consultant in the legal and social work fields and has been a contributing author in various publications.
In her free time, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her fiancé and their dogs, traveling and spending time outdoors.
LaDonna Beeker has been a paralegal with Elizabeth Franklin-Best since August 2019. Prior to joining Elizabeth Franklin-Best, P.C., LaDonna worked as a journalist for 15 years in South Carolina and North Carolina. Her award-winning journalism career led her down an investigative path seeking the truth and becoming an advocate for those who could not speak for themselves. It is her passion to help others and expose corruption that connected her with Elizabeth Franklin-Best.
LaDonna received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and paralegal certificate from the University of South Carolina. She is a South Carolina native who enjoys beach trips during the warmer months and mountain trips in the cooler seasons. LaDonna is also involved with an area congregation, where she is a member of the dance praise team and helps teach the teen youth group. You can also find her in the kitchen, where she loves to bake and try new recipes for everyday meals.