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So Scandalous November 12, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

paris pool


FITSNews – November 12, 2007 – It’s been quite a year for the S.C. Judiciary, that red-headed stepchild of the whole “separate but equal” system of democratic government. First it was the Beattygate scandal, in which state legislators are alleged to have improperly traded votes in order to elect Democrat Don Beatty to the S.C. Supreme Court. Now it’s the robes themselves – particularly Chief Justice Jean Toal – under scrutiny in the wake of a controversial bar exam grading scandal, one which we have yet to come up with a sufficiently creative “-gate” name to describe.

Toal-gate, perhaps? Maybe with this picture? Who knows …

Anyway, other than the fact both scandals were broken right here on FITSNews, what else do they have in common?

Judging from the information we’ve been able to uncover, one shared link is the office of Diane Goodstein, the Lowcountry circuit court judge who – as a result of Beattygate – is in line to become the next member of the S.C. Supremes.

That Goodstein is the prime beneficiary of Beattygate’s extensive maneuverings is difficult to dispute given the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions flowing from her husband, former legislator Arnold Goodstein, into the accounts of several elected officials. Not to mention the direct employment of Judge Goodstein’s chief legislative advocate, State Rep. Annette Young (and her son), by the Judge’s husband. But Diane Goodstein’s name is popping up in our mailbox in connection with this latest scandal, too.

Specifically it’s Goodstein’s law clerk, Kendall Burch, who finds herself on the spot after the following e-mail began making the rounds in the wake of the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to throw out an entire section of the 2007 bar exam:

From: Goodstein, Diane S. Law Clerk (Kendall Burch)
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 1:57 PM
To: Nicholson, J. C. Law Clerk (Samantha Adair); Macauley, Alexander S. Law Clerk (Mary Williams); Russo, Thomas A. Law Clerk (Jesse Cartrette); Cothran, Ralph F. Jr., Law Clerk (Anne Hanley)
Subject: Bar Exam

Hey Y’all,
First of all I’m so sorry about the bar exam. This sucks. I need to know if any of you failed the Wills part of the exam and your score. My Dad and Catherine Harrison’s dad have been on the phone with the powers that be, and if we can get a big enough group together that failed the Wills section they are going to take it to the Sup. Ct and see if they’ll regrade our exams. Apparently, the examiner for the Wills section has been asked not come back. We have a slim chance, but I think that it is worth it. So far I have a list of 10 people that have failed the exam. They are Me, <>. If you all know of anyone else that failed the Wills section PLEASE let me know because we need to show the court how outrageous they are. Again, I’m so sorry we all failed. I really can’t believe it.

Kendall Burch
Law Clerk
The Honorable Diane S. Goodstein
Post Office Box 234
St. George, South Carolina 29477

Ms. Burch, whose father Paul Michael Burch is also a circuit court judge, ended up passing the bar after the Court decided to throw out the scores from the disputed section, but her e-mail certainly appears to violate the rule that applicants “shall not, either directly or through an agent, contact any member or associate member of the Board of Law Examiners or any member of the Supreme Court regarding the questions on any section of the bar examination, grading procedures or an applicant’s answers.”

That Burch’s e-mail was sent in an official capacity from Goodstein’s office, specifically invoking the Judge’s name and enlisting the assistance of four additional law clerks for circuit court judges, is even more troubling.

Whether or not Goodstein herself was involved in pressuring the Supreme Court to throw out the disputed section is unclear, but count on FITSNews to continue investigating every lead in this ongoing saga …



1. baked - November 12, 2007

wow. wow. wow.

any chance anyone loses their job, or reputation, over this? or will we just resume business as usual?

keep up the good work.

2. Sue Ellen - November 12, 2007

Thanks for staying on this, Will. I am not sure what happened or if anything was done incorrectly, but the lack of answers and response is troubling. I wonder will come out next?

3. Been there, done that - November 12, 2007

Can that email for FOIA-ed?

4. Conspiracy Theory confirmed - November 12, 2007

It is finally figured it out!!!!!
It wasn’t a) CJ Toal boosting the CSOL’s passage rate b) Jim Harrison’s efforts c) Judge Burch’s efforts or d) some sneaky plot of Mr. Poston, IT WAS DIANE GOODSTEIN!
Because her name is included on the email address of the Clerk who works for her.
Great investigative journalism! Thank you for uncovering this monumental piece of information. Since you’ve figured this one out, I think its time you tackle the Grassy Knoll, our government’s attack on WTC and Area 51.

5. Anonymous #3 - November 12, 2007

Perhaps someone should ask Kenneth Poston, the Greenwood attorney, who reported the grading “error” on 10-31-07 (after all of the legislator and judge calls were made) exactly what the “error” entailed and why it was realized only after all of the calls were made to Hearn and to the Supreme Court.

6. FITSNews - November 12, 2007


Assuming you’re being sarcastic, good point. We thought the Kennedy assassination had been solved but from the looks of this story perhaps not …


We’re on it!


7. Gal Leo - November 12, 2007

(A re-post from the previous chain…still looking for some insight):

An honest question from somebody who doesn’t have a dog in this fight:

It strikes me that not all of the information is out. I just don’t buy some of the conspiracy theories, the theory that Harrison is evil, or the theory that Toal is an idiot.

At the same time, the points made here that some (most?) lawyers might be afraid to file a complaint — out of fear of retribution — seem reasonable.

Are there any other parties that can check in on this? The Bar Association? The Legislature? Clearly, unless the Chief Justice is willing to part with more information, it seems that an investigation of some sort would be appropriate, but through what entity, given the various conflicts and fears of retribution?

It strikes me that the Legislature would be the only interested party that is not exposed to any fear of retribution (however remote). Given Harrison’s role, maybe the Senate Judiciary could take it up?

I would be curious to know the thoughts of those who actually understand the process here.

8. a proud week for SC - November 12, 2007

about the only party who could take a stab at getting some real info is a government watchdog group. and you saw how great a swipe common cause/sc took at it: “nah, we know them. they’re good people, they wouldn’t do anything like this….” in related news, officials from the bush administration and the previous clinton administration issued a rare joint press release saying “now THAT’s the kind of government watch-doggery that makes this country great. we invite mr. head of common-cause/sc to come review our administrations, as we TOO are good people and would never do anything untoward.”

lawyers won’t say anything because our court will take your license for holding onto a check for a week too long. imagine what they’d do if you called them on the carpet?

9. USC Lawyer - November 12, 2007

The attorney general is the perfect entity to investigate via a state grand jury. They can put Mr. Harrison, Catherine Harrison, George Hearn, Judge Burch, and Judge Burch’s daughter under oath in front of the state grand jury. They can also subpoena all of these people’s email accounts as well as phone records. What’s more, the AG”s office would not pose any inherent office conflicts in prosecuting this case. The crime would probably be contempt of court. And this seems appropriate. Mr. Harrison and his daughter apparently have little (if any) respect for court rules. I think our attorney general would probably enjoy prosecuting a case like this. Just recently he “lambasted” DHEC for FOIA violations. I think he would like to work on something this high profile. I also would not be suprised if someone files a complaint against Mr. Harrison (he is a lawyer) with the ODC for his conduct.

10. 6-Section Bar Passer - November 12, 2007

USC Lawyer: In my opinion, Kendall Burch and Catherine Harrison should be the subject of any ethics complaints, since they had an “agent” violate the no-contact rule. To be honest, this is something I’d really like to see.

Also, many thanks to Will for keeping this story alive. Keep up the good work.

11. State of Denmark - November 12, 2007

A shot of the Facebook exchange is up over at the not very bright blog.

12. Daniel - November 12, 2007

USC Lawyer,

You must have forgotten that our Attorney General is running for governor, and won’t be going after one of the most powerful Republicans in the legislature any time soon.

13. Regulus by Binary Moon - November 12, 2007

“If you all know of anyone else that failed the Wills section PLEASE let me know because we need to show the court how outrageous they are.”

Yes, it is outrageous that the children of high ranking South Carolinians weren’t given an automatic pass on the bar exam, no matter how badly they performed. In fact, it’s contemptible that they were even asked to take the bar to begin with. How is South Carolina going to retain its ranking as a dismal backwater if we don’t cater to the offspring of the rich and famous?

On the bright side, It would appear Kendall Burch and Catherine Harrison have bright careers as politicians ahead of them. They certainly know how to get things done in an extralegal manner.

14. anon - November 12, 2007

Hmm, I wonder if he could be investigated by the Senate ethics committee, however. Not that anything would happen of course. It is SC after all, but it seems Mr. Harrison could run afoul of that disciplinary body as well as the judiciary…which we know nothing is going to happen there.

15. Random JD - November 12, 2007

I wish they’d all just resign…the whole lot of them. Goodstein, both Hearns, Harrison, Toal, and Burch. And I wish those two bratty kids would get disbarred.

16. Believe It Not - November 12, 2007

What a bunch of idiots you have posting on your blog, willie. And, we are among the worst. Remember, stupid did as stupid was.

17. Queen A - November 12, 2007

Did anyone see that the Speaker’s brother is on the JMSC? One of the candidates JMSC will be reviewing will be none other than … the now-former partner of John Harell.

As with the bar exams, it’s all just coincidence, right?

18. Same Game - November 12, 2007

The South Carolina legislature refuses to allow judges to be elected by popular vote to “keep politics out of the judicial process”. Give me a break. As an older attorney let me assure you that this sh*t has been going on for decades and will not stop anytime in the near future. Our representatives have this infinite amount of wisdom that we commoners fail to recognize and will discover a very large rug to cover all the bases.

19. Anonymous Attorney - November 13, 2007

This story needs to get to the national media. The only way that a change of any proportion will come about is through external pressure. There will be no review of this by the ethics committee or by the attorney general or anyone unless the national media gets hold of this. Then a change would have to come. Obviously the Supreme Court is not going to discipline themselves.

It just ticks me off that they can get away with this because if an attorney in front of the supreme court on ethical violations were to try their “sweep it under the rug”, “grading error”, “I merely contacted the Supreme Court on behalf of a group of people” excuses, they would be publicly reprimanded if not disbarred. Normal attorneys in this state have a more strict set of rules to live by than do those highly political and connected. I don’t even think this would slip through the cracks in Georgia or North Carolina the way it has here.

20. Concerned Citizen - November 13, 2007

Dear FITS News,

First, I would like to commend you on your excellent website and first class investigative journalism. Secondly, are you not concerned about retribution from the powers that be for shaking the tree?

I am constantly amazed and disturbed by the relatively unchecked power of our state Supreme Court, namely Toal. It is sad that no one in the legal community is willing to confront the court (or even disucuss these issues in public for that matter) for fear of retribution. What a shitty system.

21. FITSNews - November 13, 2007


1- Danka. 2 – We ain’t skeered. 3- We agree.

When it comes to “retribution,” we have no doubt that Sic Willie’s legendary cunning, glistening biceps and rock hard abs will protect us from any danger.

He’s the John McClane of South Carolina politics, and you can rest assured that Nakatomi Plaza is safe under his watchful eye.


22. disappointed - November 13, 2007

the swearing in is today at 2. so I doubt we will have any answers, and these people are going to be made lawyers without having actually passed the exam. what a sad sad state of affairs. I now feel that my license to practice law is not worth the paper it is printed on.

23. Anonymous - November 13, 2007

Well the least that the Supreme Court can do at this point is allow those others who failed to be able to appeal to have their essays regraded. Mind you, that would not level the playing ground because Wills, Trusts was straight up thrown out and not counted, but it would at least be something.

24. Frustrated 2L - November 13, 2007


I would like to echo my thanks for keeping us informed.

I am seriously considering practicing in another state.

Go west, young man; go west?

25. GFYWF - November 13, 2007

The Moron Brigade strikes again! You think Judge Goodstein would authorize the use of her name by her law clerk to improperly influence the Supreme Court, all for the purpose of helping the daughters of two other politicians (one a potential rival for an appellate seat and the other a republican)? “Sent in an offical capacity?” It was an email from her clerk with an automatic signature line. It is amazing how you are trying to deflect attention from the true culprits (if there are any), i.e. Harrison and Burch, and make Goodstein into the boogeyman. The idea that Judge Goodstein is the central link to all corruption in SC Politics seems to be your new theme these days. Hmmmm, I wonder if there might be some ulterior motive on behalf of Shitsnews, such as the promotion of another judicial candidate for the Supreme Court? The real question is who at Shitsnews is sleeping with Judge Hearn?
P.S. – Random JD? God help us if this idiot is a lawyer. How can they be disbarred if they aren’t lawyers? How can they violate ethical rules if they aren’t lawyers? Top quality. You really draw the intelligentsia to your blog.

26. FITSNews - November 13, 2007


Can we get a translation for that abbreviation?


27. disappointed - November 13, 2007

i assume you wont stick around to read the replies to your comment, because that is what idiots do. They come in, make a ridiculous remark, and then leave without sticking around for the fall out. As of 2pm today, they will be lawyers, at which point they can get disbarred. “I hope they get disbarred” is a statement that refers to the future. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but sometime down the road. And yes, I too hope they, and the others involved own up to what is really going on, and admit that clear rules were blatantly violated.

28. disappointed - November 13, 2007

oh yeah, and that is pretty much the point of this fiasco GFYWF…they should not be lawyers, but they are going to be very shortly. I truly hope you are not a lawyer because then we are all in some real trouble…well at least YOUR clients are.

29. Random JD - November 13, 2007

Hey #25, this idiot is a lawyer. Let’s hope you are not because you don’t seem to understand (1) the fact that you have to be found to be fit to be admitted to the practice of law. This means, if you are found to do anything that reflects poorly on your character you can be prevented from becoming a lawyer. This would include violating the orders of the Court regarding the bar exam. If you think I am not right, try cheating on the d*mn thing and see if they let you practice law. And (2), idiot, they are lawyers now. They have now been sworn in. They are now eligible to be disbarred for any reason that would result in disbarrment. Besides, did I say, I wish they would get disbarred over THIS incident? I did not. Watch who you call an idiot, moron.

30. Eesshh - November 13, 2007

Yes, Frustrated 2L go west. We have enough idiots here as evidenced by these comments. You going west means there will be one less.

31. Homeboy - November 13, 2007

Good job, Sic Willie:
Be advised:
1. The Supreme Court only disciplines themselves. No one else has any aurhority in South Carolina to do ANYTHING to them. End of story. This bar exam story is dead.
2. The South Carolina Senate nor House can impeach a sitting judge. Check it out, newby lawyers. Call Rep. Ralph Davenport who puts that bill up every year and every year it dies in committee.
3. No conflict in the Attorney General’s Office? The AG’s office “lends” employees to Jean Toal to help in her Office of Discipinary Counsel. Henry’s heavies do things like serve Demand Subpoena Ducus Tecums. Never heard of them? No one else in America has either. Call Lee Coggiola and ask her what they are. These official looking documents allow guys with badges and guns to take files from lawyers’ offices without notice, hearings or even a thank you mam. Welcome to Jean’s World!

32. Proud SC Atty - November 13, 2007

Other than GFWF’s silly accusation about FITSNews, I haven’t seen anything linking either of the Hearns to this at all. Has anyone read The State today? http://www.thestate.com/crime/story/228307.html

Chief Judge Hearn has had several law clerks fail the Bar exam during her husband’s tenure. One of her husband’s partner’s children failed this past year. If he was crooked, wouldn’t they have all passed?

I passed the SC Bar exam on my first try, but having taken other Bar exams (also successfully), I know the SC Bar exam to be VERY thorough, well-written, and challenging.

If there was a bad question, perhaps it should have been removed. But if a rule was violated, only the GUILTY parties should blamed.

33. Here you go GFWYF - November 13, 2007

Hey GFWYF, Poster #25, whatever the hell you go by:

You are dead wrong. This is what you wrote:

“God help us if this idiot is a lawyer. How can they be disbarred if they aren’t lawyers? How can they violate ethical rules if they aren’t lawyers? Top quality. You really draw the intelligentsia to your blog.”

You can later be disbarred for unethical conduct that you committed PRIOR to becoming barred. Check out case 361 SC 347. Here is an excerpt:

(2) the Supreme Court had the authority to impose discipline upon attorney for conduct that occurred before attorney was licensed to practice law in state, but was not discovered until after attorney’s admission to the practice of law, overruling Matter of Edwards, 327 S.C. 148, 488 S.E.2d 864;

So, uh yeah, you are incorrect. Random JD was right in his assertion that they should be disbarred, because contrary to your post – YES they can be disbarred for this conduct, whether they were sworn in at the time of the conduct or not.

So, to use your words, God help us if YOU are a lawyer. They can be disbarred if they are not even lawyers yet. They can commit ethical violations if they are not even lawyers yet. Don’t crucify others when you are truly the one who doesn’t know what you are talking about. Intelligentsia!

34. Regina - November 13, 2007

If it’s in The State it must be true

35. GFYWF - November 13, 2007

Dear Disappointed and Randumb JD:

1) I read your posts
2) What exactly about my post was ridiculous? I find it amusing that your juvenile retorts are based on, well, I haven’t really figured that out yet, but had nothing to do with the ridiculous “connection” between Goodstein and the exam. The shot at Randumb JD was merely a postscript.
3) I won’t quote your previous post regarding “those bratty kids”, but it was made before anyone was sworn in and it certainly implied that you wanted them disbarred for the alleged exam fixing scandal. If it was truly meant as a general desire for them to commit additional ethical wrongs in the future in order for them to be disciplined by the Court, I apologize. As for the fitness to practice argument, are you really calling me an idiot? You want them disbarred for something (1) they allegedly did before they were lawyers, and (2) by the same 5 people who ratified that the exam was incorrect? So basically, you think the Gervais Street 5 should throw out a portion of the exam (which you allege was done for unlawful reasons and due to improper influence), swear in the culprits with full knowledge of the wrongdoing, and then disbar them for the very acts they condoned and ratified by tossing the exam. Wow, I wish I could be as smart as you.

Please, continue to post and validate my previous assessment of this bastion of political rhetoric.

36. Here you go GFWYF - November 13, 2007

They wouldn’t get disbarred “for the very thing that the Supreme Court condoned”. If an investigation is done on these issues, then more facts will likely come to light. If so, then they can be disbarred for their actions even though they committed them prior to becoming barred.

The fitness to practice argument is not the one that proves you wrong buddy. Case 361 SC 347 is. Whether or not the Supreme Court would actually disbar them is not the issue. The fact is that they have the power to. Your earlier argued that they did not have that power. You were wrong. So don’t focus on minor points presented by your opponents when you need to focus on the major points. Those points are the ones that make you look like a moron.

37. disappointed - November 13, 2007

cheaters are cheaters. People who only get by by bending the rules will have it catch up with them some day. I do seriously doubt that anything will happen because of this situation. But I will not be surprised if unethical behavior surfaces in the future, at which point hopefully they will get disciplined.

38. Anon - November 13, 2007

If you didn’t notice, that last post was directed to you.

39. disappointed - November 13, 2007

and you are not impressing anyone with your vocabulary. so just stop.

40. disappointed - November 13, 2007

it just looks so much better with her picture next to it. you can almost see the words coming out of her mouth.

41. Random JD - November 13, 2007

I accept your apology.

42. Randolph W. Hunter - November 13, 2007

I have been practicing law for some 35+ years and I have never been more disappointed in our S. Ct. and in some of the posts by other lawyers. The childish jabs at one another have no place in this forum. We all are in this together and should work to repair this very troubling ethical problem.

Has anyone considered that 90+% of the USC graduates passed the bar with no problem? How was the grading of the Wills, Trusts & Estate section unfair? How could anyone possibly arrive at that conclusion? Had these applicants failed another portion, I speculate that section may very well have been thrown out as well. This decision is demeaning to those young lawyers who actually passed the Bar.

For the first time in my long career, I am ashamed, disgusted and throughly disappointed with our system and I would be the first to file a grievance if I thought it would do any good. I applaud “Concerned member of the Bar” and am proud to be associated with attorneys who know how a SC lawyer should think and act.

It certainly appears that there have been ethical violations which need to be addressed. We are due an explanation and quickly. Hopefully, it will be satisfactory-for the good of all of us.

43. Homeboy - November 13, 2007

Chief Justice Toal didn’t show up at the swearing in today because of a previously scheduled golf outing? Are you kidding me?

44. Queen A - November 13, 2007

Homeboy, don’t question her. She’s fit to judge herself.

45. anonymous - November 13, 2007


I agree with you in every regard. It is extremely disappointing to see this happening. It is disappointing as a lawyer to have these appearances of impropriety or violations of our rules occurring in our profession and the silence that comes from our Supreme Court in response. It is disheartening to both the members of the Bar for what I few as a failure by those that lead us, as well as disheartening to have the public view our system of one of politics rather than one of justice. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, and yet by all appearances, it appears that in reality, she is anything but. Practicing in South Carolina for 12 years, you come to realize a slight bit of politics here and there within the system, but nothing that has ever cast such a pall over our entire system. I said this to a friend the other day: what happened with CJ Toal and her past driving incidents was not a good thing, but it didn’t reflect upon the professionalism and character of the Bar as a whole. Mainly it reflected only upon her. This current story, however, reflects upon the entire legal community and the system in which we operate. It is very disappointing.

46. Fooorrreee!!!! - November 13, 2007

Toal needs to hire Sic to do her press work. She is the worst ever with the media.

“First Ladies Golf Tournament” – is this a joke?

47. Anon - November 13, 2007

The very idea that the Chief Justice would have, as Justice Pleicones repeatedly pointed out to the point of really seeming odd, had a very long standing obligation to be elsewhere is ridiculous. Chief Justice Toal is the one who actually selects the date for the swearing in. Does anyone really think that she had a very long standing obligation to make remarks at a ceremony celebrating an elderly female golfer from Myrtle Beach (or something like that) instead of attending the swearing in ceremony? Come on.

48. Anon - November 14, 2007

Toal loves playing queen of the lawyers and judges. I wonder how many swearing in ceremonies she has missed since she become CJ?

49. Bar Exam Stories « Not Very Bright - November 14, 2007

[…] Meanwhile, lawyers in the state continue to talk about this story and the effect it has had on the profession.  See some of those comments over at FITSNews. […]

50. Stop the Bleeding - November 14, 2007

Chief Justice Toal’s lack of leadership on this issue by itself raises questions of her fitness to serve the highest court in this state. The first rule of order in crisis management is to stop the bleeding. In this case, Toal is allowing her reputation and that of the entire South Carolina bar to hemorrhage uncontrollably as her silence becomes more deafening.

Whatever confidence she has in the strength of her position on this matter has apparently not been conveyed to rest of the community and consequently allows the circumstantial evidence of impropriety to mount. While I readily admit to not being an expert in the cannons of judicial conduct, I can recognize no foreseeable harm or injury to befall any innocent party as a result of her presenting exculpatory evidence to end this controversy.

Those persons who have direct contact and influence with Chief Justice Toal should urge her to speak publically and clear the air on this matter so that we can put it behind us. Chief Justice Toal should stand on high as a shining monument to the principles of equity and justice, yet it is becoming ever more apparent that she is merely an empress who has no clothes.

51. Jindal for Governor of SC - November 14, 2007

A wise Cajun once said, “you gotta drain the swamp to see the alligators.”

We as concerned citizens of this great state need to demand that the facts behind this controversy come to light. We are starting to look worse Lousiana! At least they have a #1 ranked football team and their new governor won his election by promising to fight corruption.

52. The Overly Optimistic USC Lawyer - November 14, 2007

I guess I have a lot of faith in prosecutors to ignore their political affiliations. I suppose a recent US Attorney General should have clued me in.

53. Homeboy - November 14, 2007

Application to be a Circuit Court Judge’s Law Clerk in SC

Who’s yo Daddy?

How well does he know Jean Toal?

54. Homeboy - November 14, 2007

Tantalizing teaser, Overly Optimistic USC lawyer. Are you referring to the (1) Ravenel delay in indictmant or (2) that the US Attorney’s office has been investigating the SC SC for obstruction of justice, abuse of process and other such “discretionary things” they have to power to do to the SC BAR. The US Attorney’s office knows it. So who can make them move on it?

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