Unlikely education cases taught Skyler Hutto a thing or two
Published in 2023 South Carolina Super Lawyers magazine
By Brendan Meyer on April 21, 2023
Skyler Hutto needs to scratch the passion itch from time to time. In addition to his personal injury and criminal defense work at Williams & Williams, pro bono work has allowed the 31-year-old to explore another interest.
“Public education work is something that’s close to me,” he says. “I graduated from a private high school, but for most of my life, I went to public school. It gave me a great foundation.”
Hutto’s pro bono work has led him to represent public schools at the state Supreme Court twice. The first was challenging the governor’s use of $50 million in emergency coronavirus funds to fund tuition for private schools. The second challenged the state’s authority to restrict the public schools’ ability to require masks in school.
Hutto and his colleagues won the first case outright. The second met mixed results but ultimately provided a benefit to their clients. The wording of the decision gave his clients the confidence to go ahead with mask enforcement, knowing they’d likely have a way to defend against any challenge that might be brought forward.
“It’s definitely a different feeling when you win and succeed in pro bono cases like these,” Hutto says. “After we won the first case, we received a lot of thanks from educators and people who work in education. That really meant a lot.”
It also led to great experiences. In the governor’s case, Hutto had the chance to argue his first appellate case. And the success of that case led to his involvement in the mask challenge—a case many thought the public schools would lose.
“During our first challenge, a lot of people had the mentality of, ‘It’s so great that you’re trying, but unfortunately, the deck is stacked against you.’ Evidently it wasn’t, because it was a unanimous decision in our favor. I hope it leads some lawyers to think that maybe our Supreme Court is more receptive to some of these issues than we thought.”
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