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Stories From Around the State
Date: May 16, 2011
Location: Wall Auditorium, Coastal Carolina University
Event: Panel Discussion
Partners: LWV of the Darlington County; LWV of the Florence Area; American Association for University Women; Charleston School of Law; Association of Retired Americans; Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina; Coastal Carolina University; Coastal Carolina University Women's Resource Center; Horry County Public Library; Horry County Education Association + Retired
The League of Women Voters of Horry County Members-at-Large Unit teamed up with the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County to organize a forum investigating ways to promote diversity on the bench, featuring three panel discussions with legal practitioners. The speakers provided a number of ideas and suggestions, including increasing the number of candidates who can be advanced from the Judicial Merit Selection Commission to the legislature.
The speakers included South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn; Disciplinary Counsel for the South Carolina Supreme Court, Lee Coggiola; Representative George Hearn; Honorable Jennifer Wilson, Myrtle Beach Municipal Court; Solicitor Ernest Finney III, SC Third Judicial Circuit; and Natasha Hanna, attorney-member, Pee Dee Citizens Committee on Judicial Qualifications.
The full event is available as a four-part video recording on YouTube.
Date: May 14, 2011
Location: Quality Inn, Sumter, South Carolina
Partners: South Carolina Women Lawyers Association
The League of Women Voters of South Carolina made the ongoing judicial campaign activities the focus of their 2011 State Convention in Sumter on May 14, 2011. The Honorable Ruth McGregor, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Arizona and a noted judicial independence advocate, delivered a keynote address (LINK: http://lwvsc.org/files/mcgregor_speech.pdf) on the importance of a diverse bench. The League bestowed on the Honorable Ernest Finney, the first African American Chief Justice in South Carolina, its “Spirit of Democracy Award” for his many years of service. The conference also featured a panel on the topic of judicial selection featuring Circuit Court Judge Hon. W. Jeffrey Young; State Representative David Weeks; Janet Lynam, Pee Dee County Citizens Committee on Judicial Qualifications; South Carolina Women Lawyers Association Board Member Sarah Leverette; and Charleston School of Law Professor Constance Anastapoulo.
The conference was covered twice in The Sumter Item.
Date: February – April, 2011
Location: Fairforest, Lone Oak, Chapman, and Arcadia Elementary Schools, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Event: School Program
Partners: Boys and Girls Clubs of Spartanburg; Spartanburg County Historical Association
In collaboration with the Spartanburg County Historical Association, the League of Spartanburg developed an educational program on judicial selection in South Carolina to be used by elementary school students who participate in Boys and Girls Clubs in Spartanburg. Each student was given a 25-page workbook that covered three lessons, after which he/she needed to share with three adults to explain what he/she has learned in this program. The lessons culminated in a mock court event with role playing by participants and by invited members of the judiciary. The project was so successful that the Spartanburg County Historical Association may add a second and third workbook covering the other two branches of government.
The participating schools were Fairforest, Lone Oak, Chapman, and Arcadia Elementary Schools. The mock court events were presided by Jody Cusson-Worley, City prosecutor; Ponda Caldwell, Probate Judge, and Tina McMillan, Magistrate Judge.
Date: April 12, 2011
Location: Clemson Central Library, Clemson, South Carolina
Partners: South Carolina Women Lawyers Association
Attorney Jennifer Howe, a representative of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association, discussed judicial diversity and how to improve South Carolina’s system for selecting judges.
Date: March 21, 2011
Location: Cafeteria at the Darlington Magnet School, Darlington, South Carolina
League Members Joyce Franklin and Sheila Haney presented a program, “How Diverse is the South Carolina Bench?,” to highlight that in South Carolina, only 22% of state judges using the merit-selection process are women, even though women comprise nearly 35% of lawyers in the state and make up 52% of the state population. Only eight (or 7%) of the 118 judgeships are occupied by a minority judge.
Date: March 14, 2011
Location: Seminar Room of Central Carolina Technical University, Sumter, South Carolina
Master-In-Equity Richard Booth spoke about holding hearings for contested and uncontested non-jury matters. Masters in Equity hear appeals from Magistrate and Probate Court rulings. He is an adjunct of the Circuit Court and hears cases that may involve a lot of testimony. In reality, most of his cases involve property foreclosures. Judge Booth is only aware of two female “Masters” presently serving.
Date: February 17, 2011
Location: Statehouse Grounds, Columbia, South Carolina
The League of Women Voters of South Carolina held a meeting with members of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) and their Chief Counsel, Jane Shuler, to articulate the goals of the ongoing education campaign. The JMSC is composed of Senator Glenn McConnell; Senator John “Jakie” Knotts, Jr.; Senator Floyd Nicholson; Professor Emeritus John Freeman, University of South Carolina Law School; Amy McLester, private citizen; Representative F. G. Delleney, Jr.; Representative Alan D. Clemmons; Representative David Mack; John Harrell, Esq.; H. Donald Sellers, Esq.
By: Cynthia Padera
Date: January 31, 2011
Location: Florence-Darlington Technical College, Florence, South Carolina
State Senator Gerald Malloy of Hartsville spoke about a portion of the legislative agenda for 2011 and its impacts on fair and impartial courts; specifically, he discussed his bill that would nearly triple the amount of money the state's court system would receive from South Carolina's General Fund. This event was covered by SC News Now.
Date: January 20, 2011
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Attorney Karen Utter discussed the importance of judicial diversity and the current composition of the judiciary in South Carolina, barriers to a diverse judiciary, and possible actions that could be taken to improve the level of diversity.