Tag Archives: Donald Beatty

Top court rarely disciplines judges despite numerous complaints

October 22, 2021

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT Last week, the S.C. Supreme Court suspended Oconee County probate judge Kenneth Johns for 18 months after he formally admitted – for the second time in five years – violating ethics rules for judges. It’s not often that the state’s top court, headed by Chief Justice Donald Beatty, publicly disciplines a judge, […]

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Secrecy still order of the day in S.C. court system

March 10, 2021

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south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT If an ethics complaint is filed against a South Carolina judge, in most cases the public will never learn the details. That’s because court rules adopted by the five-member S.C. Supreme Court – the state’s top court – largely ensure secrecy in the process. For example, under court rules, misconduct proceedings against […]

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Golden parachute for state attorney general?

February 19, 2021

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By RICK BRUNDRETT Longtime state attorney general Alan Wilson could receive bigger retirement paychecks under legislation sponsored by two House leaders who also are lawyers. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, who is the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, and Chris Murphy, R-Dorchester, who is the House Judiciary Committee chairman, would allow […]

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State court system won’t reveal key details on judicial discipline

February 5, 2021

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By RICK BRUNDRETT For the second time in recent months, the S.C. Judicial Department has sided with secrecy about how the court system operates. In October, the department denied The Nerve’s request under the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a list of judicial staff making at least $50,000 annually – records which are […]

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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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SC Senate Chamber

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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