Tag Archives: Donald Beatty

Lawmakers want to grow size of state’s top court – and their control over judges

January 20, 2021

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT The powerful S.C. House speaker, who controls half of the appointments on a committee that nominates judges for election in the Legislature, wants to expand the size of the state’s highest court and eliminate the cap on judicial nominees. Rep. Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, is the main sponsor of a joint resolution calling […]

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Judicial Department reverses course, releases staff salaries after Nerve story

November 23, 2020

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  By RICK BRUNDRETT Less than three hours after The Nerve revealed Friday that the S.C. Judicial Department was keeping secret the salaries of department employees making at least $50,000 annually, the agency released a list of 300 staffers in that group, including judges. Department public information director Ginny Jones provided the list without explanation […]

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State court system keeps staff salaries secret from the public

November 20, 2020

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT The S.C. Judicial Department – the third branch of state government – is refusing to publicly reveal salaries of its own employees, contending it isn’t legally required to do so. The Nerve on Oct. 18 submitted a request to the department under the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking for the […]

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Lawyer-lawmakers largely control who becomes a judge in SC. Here’s their latest power play

February 21, 2020

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By RICK BRUNDRETT Ten S.C. House members who are lawyers are pushing legislation to create two circuit and two family court seats – and several of the bill’s co-sponsors would play large roles in who gets nominated to those positions. The lead sponsor of the bill is House speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, an attorney who […]

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Secret “letters of caution” routinely given to S.C. judges

December 11, 2019

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By RICK BRUNDRETT Over the last 17 fiscal years, state court officials tasked with policing judicial ethics issued more than 250 “letters of caution” – usually in secret – to judges statewide, the most common type of action taken on complaints that were not dismissed, a review by The Nerve found. Under state court rules, […]

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How one S.C. senator can control the appointment of county magistrates

July 2, 2019

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By RICK BRUNDRETT The S.C. Senate’s quiet move at the end of last week’s special legislative session to confirm Mike Pitts as a Laurens County magistrate surprised even some senators when the former state House member’s name was quickly read across the desk. That’s likely because, in part, the appointment of the more than 300 […]

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Lawmakers usually find it easy getting other government gigs

March 6, 2019

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By RICK BRUNDRETT Ex-S.C. Rep. Mike Pitts’ decision this week to drop his quest to become the next director of the state land preservation agency is a rarity compared to the steady stream of former lawmakers who glided into high-paying government jobs. The Laurens County Republican, who last year was the House Ethics Committee chairman […]

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Senators continue tradition of keeping magistrates on short leashes

February 5, 2019

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT In South Carolina, state senators largely control the selection of more than 300 county magistrates, who handle thousands of relatively minor criminal and civil cases annually. That power is amplified when magistrates finish their terms without being reappointed, a period known as “holdover” status in which they can serve indefinitely – and […]

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Big pay hike sought by S.C. judges also would fatten their retirement wallets

December 11, 2018

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT A little-known state law allows eligible judges in South Carolina to receive generous retirement pay for as much as a dozen years at the same time they’re collecting their regular six-figure salaries. S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty, who heads the state Judicial Department, is now asking for a 33-percent pay […]

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Lawyer-lawmakers play large role in electing S.C. judges

February 16, 2018

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty is a former state House member. So is James Lockemy, chief judge of the S.C. Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court. The road from the State House to the court house historically has been an easy one, as The Nerve has previously reported. Last […]

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