South Carolina Supreme Court
|South Carolina Supreme Court|
|Location:||Columbia, South Carolina|
|Method:||Legislative election of judges|
The South Carolina Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of South Carolina. The court is composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. Judges are selected by the legislature of South Carolina to serve terms of ten years. There is no prohibition against justices serving multiple terms on the court.
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Chief justice Jean Hoefer Toal||1988-2015|
|Justice Costa Pleicones||1991 - present|
|Justice Donald Beatty||2003 - present|
|Justice John Kittredge||2003 - present|
|Justice Kaye Hearn||1995 - present|
Jean Hoefer Toal currently serves as Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Justice Toal was re-elected in 2004 for a ten-year term. Her term expires in 2014. Judge Hoefer Toal is a Democrat.
The court has original and appellate jurisdiction. It has exclusive appellate jurisdiction for all state cases regarding the death penalty, state utility rates, judgments involving public bonded indebtedness and elections, and orders limiting state grand juries and relating to abortions by minors. Original jurisdiction pertains to the issuance writs including mandamus, certiorari, and extraordinary bills. Additionally, the court has the responsibility of overseeing the admission of individuals to practice law in the state. It also supervises the discipline of attorneys and suspension of those no longer able to practice due to mental or physical condition.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has five justices, one Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. Justices are elected to ten-year terms. South Carolina and Virginia are the only states where lawmakers alone select judges.
According to Section 2-19-35(A) of the South Carolina Constitution, the Judicial Merit Selection Commission considers "constitutional qualifications, ethical fitness, professional and academic ability, character, reputation, physical health, mental stability, experience, and judicial temperament" when determining candidates to the Supreme Court of the state.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of South Carolina was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, South Carolina received a score of 0.47. Based on the justices selected, South Carolina was the 9th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Removal of justices
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. South Carolina earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
History of the court
The Supreme Court is based in Columbia, South Carolina. Up until 1971, the court was based in the State House, but in that year, the court moved to the old Columbia Post Office. The building was renovated in 1991.
- News: SC Supreme Court to hear FOIA case, January 25, 2012
- News: South Carolina Supreme Court rules illegal gaming machines to be destroyed, December 21, 2011
- South Carolina Supreme Court
- South Carolina Constitution
- Stanford University "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Center for Public Integrity "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Supreme Court Judiciary: Supreme Court Judiciary
|Former||John Waller • Charles Albert Woods • Ernest A. Finney, Jr. •|