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Rats At The State House? May 22, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
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donnie brasco

WARNING FROM THE BAR, RUMORS OF LEGISLATIVE INFORMANTS STIR SUPREME COURT POT FURTHER

FITSNews – May 22, 2007 – In what one source referred to as “Lost Trust II” – a reference to the 1990’s vote-buying scandal that rocked the S.C. State House and resulted in the conviction of over a dozen legislators – it appears that “rats” are once again scurrying to and fro beneath the Capital Dome in Columbia, S.C.

On the same day that the President of the S.C. Bar warned legislators about the illegality of vote trading in the current S.C. Supreme Court election, FITSNews has been informed that at least one State Legislator who was approached with an illegal offer may be “working undercover” like Donnie Brasco (pictured above) to expose the whole sordid affair. We’d already heard from another source that some form of investigation over the judicial selection process was “an inevitability,” but this revelation is the first hint that some of the alleged scandals linked to tomorrow’s long-awaited vote on the next S.C. Supreme Court justice could be treading into criminal waters.

As we reported earlier this month, South Carolina law expressly forbids the solicition or commitment of a vote from a legislator regarding Supreme Court appointments prior to the release of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission’s screening report. Violators of the law can face fines of up to $1000 and up to 90 days in prison. Stay tuned to FITSNews for more on this latest development …

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Comments»

1. tammy - May 22, 2007

Geez.

Since there is a third candidate who is obviously qualified and not in the news for being associated with the sketchy politics of far right divsive racist groups or being accused of being involved in a vote swapping scandal…WHY DON”T THE LEGISLATORS JUST VOTE FOR HER??????????? And be done with this mess???

2. yep - May 22, 2007

Don’t you think calling this “Lost Trust II” is a little much? Its got to me a lot harder to prove vote swaping than vote buying. Now if you have evidence that several legislators sold their vote for the Supreme Court seat for a big ass bag of coke, then “Lost Trust II” would be a little more suiting.

3. Attorney - May 22, 2007

I agree with the first comment posted. Clearly some of the candidates have become mired in sordid political affairs. However, Chief Judge Hearn has risen above the fray by running a clean, ethical campaign to be proud of. There have been no accusations that Chief Judge Hearn has been anything but above reproach. Now there is the type of candidate that makes South Carolina proud and who deserves to be voted to the open S.C. Supreme Court seat tomorrow. I think Chief Judge Hearn has led by example and is without question the judicial candidate best suited to the Supreme Court.

4. Sleepless In Columbia - May 22, 2007

Thanks, Tammy. I couldn’t agree more: Kaye Hearn has a masters degree in judicial process from the University of Virginia, has led the Court of Appeals for nearly 10 years and served as a judge there before that, and a trial court judge for over a decade before that. And she graduated at the top of her class in law school. And whatever happened to showing some deference and waiting one’s turn? Plus, she has conducted herself honorably. That’s the kind of leader I want.

Also, comparing her to the other two candidates who are junior to her and (should have waited their turn rather than dividing the court of appeals) is like apples and oranges. Her outstanding ratings are based on over 400 responses, while one of the candidates who’s new to the court had barely 75.

I’m glad the SC Bar finally stepped up to the plate to set the record straight. Let’s hope it wasn’t too late.

5. Earl - May 22, 2007

Hey guys, is there anything wrong with gender bias in former Family Court judges?

Yep, rats indeed …

6. GKP - May 22, 2007

Judge Hearn would make an excellent choice. That isn’t the point. The point is that the process is flawed.

And don’t think for a second that the problem is “solved” by suggesting that “theSC Bar finally stepped up to the plate to set the record straight.” The bar gave its highest marks to Judge Williams. Pick at the details all you want, but that is a fact (see earlier post).

And, besides, thankfully the Bar does not pick our judges. Allowing them to do so would disenfranchise just about every South Carolina conservative voter/resident.

If there was wrongdoing here, I hope it is exposed. It may be what is needed to fix the process.

7. Earl - May 23, 2007

GKP – I’ll agree with you there. This particular nomination process has really gone over the top and shown us the need to rethink how we do this. The appointment of judges shouldn’t be anything like what this has been.

Feel free to get in touch with me over on my blog. This may be a good subject to explore for future blogging ideas.

8. yep - May 23, 2007

“nomination process?” Are you badmouthing how judges are elected or nominated? And for the record, they aren’t appointed (that’s federal). Maybe you aren’t quite ready to start up a blog topic on this. On the other hand, who needs knowledge to form an opinion right?

9. Radar - May 23, 2007

hey yep, quit being such a jerk. we all know what he means.

you must be backing hearn. we know you judge hearn backers are mad he went public about his experience with her on his blog, but you don’t have to get all pissy and stuff about it. you’re starting to act like those BIN crybabies.

10. yep - May 23, 2007

Nice ad hominem attack, so I’ll retort likewise. You’re an idiot. I’m not calling Earl unintelligent, just his post. And for the record, I had not read his blog, and I’m not using posts to “back” people. I just call em how I see em – I don’t discriminate. I’m tired of laypersons saying that the system is so broken when it appears that they don’t understand it. So sorry if I appear “pissy and stuff about it.” And I find BIN equally annoying but I just divert my eyes, its easy, try it.

11. Earl - May 23, 2007

Ok, Yep – the way our Legislature elects judges needs to be reconsidered. Instead of doing what we usually do – put the insiders in charge of fixing their screw-ups – perhaps this process needs to begin outside of the Statehouse.

I don’t know what the answer is to the present problem, but I know there is a problem. That’s always a good starting point for any discussion.

But just because I slip up with some of the words I choose doesn’t mean that my concerns have no legitimacy (it WAS one-something in the morning when I wrote that – cut me a little slack, won’t ya?). As a taxpayer, resident of this state, and someone who has dealt with our courts, and will probably deal with them in the future, I’m concerned that the present system is way beyond broken and want to see something done about it.

If you’ve got some concerns and/or thoughts you’d like to share, my invitation to email me privately extends to you and anyone else. If you were that particular about what I had to say, then certainly you have some opinions of your own.

(… is that better?)

12. yep - May 23, 2007

I didn’t mean to upset you Earl. I’ve been hearing this argument for years and I guess I finally had enough and you were an easy target. Sure, discuss all you want. My main concern is that if judges become publically elected, they will run campaigns based on single issues and judicial indepedence will go to the waistside because judges will come to the bench with an agenda, and that’s not their job. Rather, they are suppose to independantly interpret the law. It baffles me that it appears that a large amount of opponents of “judicial activism” support the public elections of judges. It makes me think that these people aren’t really against activism, they just want to take Marbury v. Madison away from judges they disagree with. Earl, I’m sorry you didn’t get child support but that can be readjudicated based upon a material and substantial change of circumstances and the best interest of your child. Go see a lawyer, there’s plenty of good ones down your way.

13. Earl - May 23, 2007

Yep – I’ll agree with you totally (and apology accepted). We’ve gotten a good taste of the growing politicization of the process in the last two weeks, and I don’t like what I’m seeing.

Those who feel that today’s vote was the end of the problem had better think again. Next time a major court appointment comes up, the circus will be back in town.

In the meantime, Sic Willie’s got lots of hooters and bimbos to show off … maybe somewhere in the blogosphere there’s also a little room for some substantive discussion about the problems our state faces.

Too late for the child support. The ex died five years ago, and she either never worked, or not long enough to qualify my daughter for survivor’s benefits. Not having that money didn’t sink us, but a little here, little there – it adds up.

However, the support my daughter needed most was the in-person support that only a living, breathing, caring mother could provide.

14. ha - May 23, 2007

I hear you Earl. Good luck to you.

15. yep - May 23, 2007

Yeah, good luck!

16. tammy - May 23, 2007

To Earl: 🙂

17. Earl - May 23, 2007

Aw come on guys, can’t we just get back to talking about hooters and who might be on the take?

18. Disenchanted - May 23, 2007

C’mon guys, there really is a significant proportion of voters in this state who did NOT just fall off the turnip truck. Popular election of our judges CANNOT possibly result in a worse crop of judges than those we already have squatting on the benches.

Under the current system a judge who is “well connected” cannot be removed from the bench, no matter how bad the judicial temperment. the abuse of discretion demonstrated in his/her decisions, or even a recommendation from the JMSC that this judge not be returned to the bench

Sorry you didn’t get awarded child support, Earl, but let me assure you that that there are far more devastating and deplorable “errors” committed by Family Court Judges every day.

19. Earl - May 23, 2007

Disenchanted, didn’t you know they are fit to judge themselves. Especially after a few drinks.

This gives “getting run over by the courts” a whole new meaning.

It’s ok … my bills are still getting paid. You’re right, while unfair, it’s far from the worst injustice I’ve seen out there.

20. yep - May 24, 2007

“Popular election of our judges CANNOT possibly result in a worse crop of judges than those we already have squatting on the benches.”

Never say never. Further, in my personal experience I would say that only a very, very small number of judges are “bad” judges in that they are incompetent. Most are very competent, well educated, highly respected by peers, and good people. Now, I would agree that one’s political ideology has, in the past at least, been less of a factor in getting on the bench than getting a seat in the legislature. So by bad you might mean “liberal.”

So it depends on the definition of bad. . But if bad means incompetent and you think that public elections will solve that, then you either don’t know our judges or you forgot who South Carolina just elected governor. Disenchanted what characteristics should we value in judges?

21. Disenchanted - May 26, 2007

Hey Yup

You know I overheard one of the “laypersons” you talk about the other day saying, “Well lookey there, the Emperor ain’t wearin’ no clothes.” Of course, that “layperson” isn’t educated enough to comprehend just how the system works, and just how good the system is.

I believe that both of our assessments of the judges of this fine State possibly are overly broad. I do NOT believe that politics, or political beliefs have any bearing on whether a judge is good or bad. I have observed that some judges who are respected by peers, well educated, and competent nevertheless lack the integrity that it takes to be a good judge. Any person who finds him/herself in a position of ultimate authority, with absolute immunity from being held accountable or being removed from that position, must have the highest of standards to avoid the pitfalls of abusing being in such a position. Unfortunately, many of our judges do not hold themselves to those high standards.

You ask the characteristics that I believe judges should exhibit. Judges should doggedly adhere to the Constitution, the law, applicable precedent, and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and render their decisions ever mindful of the rights of the litigant(s) before them to have a fair and impartial hearing based on fact. (I believe this is pretty much covered by the Oath that each judge takes.) I also would like to see judges be willing to impose sanctions on those barristers who appear before them who abuse the judicial process, and whose decisions cannot be influenced by the “connections” or reputations of the barristers who are associated with the matter before them.

Yup, I challenge you to take an extensive anonymous poll of the attorneys in this State, asking them just how many judges blatantly announce that their courts are operated under their own rules. I think you will find that there are many attorneys who wish that they could find the published version of each judge’s rules. It would make their jobs so much easier.

22. Disenchanted - May 26, 2007

Hey Yep
The other day I overheard one of the “laypersons” you talk about saying, “Well lookey there, the Emperor ain’t wearin’ no clothes.” Of course, that “layperson” isn’t well educated and cannot comprehend how the system works and just how good that system is.

I believe that both our assessments of the judges of this fine State possible are overly broad. I do not believe that politics and/or political beliefs should have any bearing on whether a judge is good or bad. I have observed some judges who are respected by peers, well educated and competent frequently demonstrating a lack of the integrity that it takes to be a good judge.
Any person who is in a position of ultimate authority, with absolute immunity from being held accountable or being removed from that position for his/her actions must hold themselves to the highest of standards in order to avoid the temptation to abuse such a position of authority. Unfortunately, many of our judges do not hold themselves to such high standards.
You ask the characteristics that I believe judges should exhibit. Judges should doggedly adhere to the Contstitution, the Law, aplicable precedent, and the Rules of Procedure and Eviidence. They should render their decisions ever mndful of the right of the litigant(s) to have a fair and impartial decision based on FACT. (I believe that judges must take and Oath to do so.) I would like to see more judges willing to sanction attorneys who abuse the judicial process, be intolerant of intentional misrepresentations by both the litigants and their attorneys, and be above showing favoratism towards certain attorneys.
Just as a fun exercise, YUP, why don’t you conduct an anonymouse poll of the sttorneys in this State asking them how often they find that certain judges have their own rules for their courts. I think you will find many who wish they could find the published version of each judge’s rules of court. It would make their jobs soo much easier.

23. yep - May 29, 2007

You might want to get yourself checked out. You either have some short-term memory problems or a British alter-ego with a knack for redundancy. (we earned the right to quit calling them barristers when we won the revolution) But in all seriousness, judges don’t have absolute immunity. They are bound by the Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement and can be removed by the Supreme Court for violations thereof. And yes, because they are people, it may be impossible for them to interpret the rules of civil procedure and evidence with complete uniformity, but that’s not a matter of integrity its a matter of liquidity. Further, I agree that some judges may be more favorable to some lawyers and less to others; however, I’m not sure how changing our current judicial selection process would change that. If anything it would make judges more likely to be partial to campaign contributors and organizations within their electoral base. As I am sure you would agree, justice is not about having friends to reward or enemies to punish.

24. Disenchanted - May 31, 2007

Sorry about the redundancy. I copied and pasted the first post and it did not show up, so I then typed in post number 2 – only to have post number 1 show up.

I chose the word barrister very carefully, because, over time, the Judges have granted themselves immunity. You might want to research that. The founders of this country envisioned there being checks and balances for all three branches of government, but the Judiciary has ruled itself to be exempt from any scrutiny.

I challenge you to name one judge in this state (other than magistrates or summary judges) who has been removed from the bench because of his/her conduct ON THE BENCH. I am not talking about taking bribes, or being caught with illegal drugs, or immoral conduct outside of the court room. I am talking about heinous behavior and rulings in the course of adjudicating cases.

Let’s try a little logic here. If the judicial suitors have to garner votes from people who have already had to sell their souls politically to become legislators, those suitors have to have made some agreement to be of like persuasion in order to secure the votes. Just because it is done behind closed doors and in parking garages doesn’t make it any different than campaigning for public election.

Please don’t take me to task for employing logic. I am well aware that it is foreign to politics and judicial decisions.

25. yep - May 31, 2007

your logic is a circular sophistry. Corruption might breed other corruption but if you can’t prove its existence without an assumption, (ie the assumption that every legislator has sold his/her soul to become legislators) then you aren’t really proving anything. Which came first the chicken or the egg? True logic can never tell us without circular reasoning. So therein lies the tail. But even if one may accept your assumption as fact, as cynic as it may be, though likely partially true nonetheless, then there is still very distinguishing characteristics between public and legislative elections. These characteristics are embodied in the essence of the constitutional concept of judicial decisional independence. Drafters understood that inviting quid pro quo into the judiciary was a receipe for prejudicial adjudication and would make the law and facts take a secondary role to the judge’s ambition to get re-elected or appease its electorate. If the electorate and those whom the court has personal jurisdiction widely overlaps, then the potential for corruption is more apparent. But to be honest, I’m boring myself so have your ill-considered opinions, I’m out.

26. Disenchanted - June 1, 2007

As Cicero said 2500 years ago, “If you have the facts, argue the facts, if you have not the facts, argue the law, and if you have neither, abuse the plaintiff.”


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