Electing South Carolina judges

Today at noon all 170 members of the SC General Assembly could pledge our support to candidates in the upcoming judicial elections that will be held in a Joint Assembly in a few weeks.

If you’re not familiar with the process, well…it pretty much looks like the photo above. While I believe the law says you cannot “horse trade”, trust me…a lot of that goes on.

I’m not sure of what the “best” way to elect our judges is; but I’ve heard that what we do is actually “better” than states who have general elections.

Most citizens could care less about the process (especially with our state’s unemployment at historical highs) but if you’re interested in the state’s judiciary, here’s where you can go to find more:

What is the Judicial Merit Selection Commission?

What do we know about these judges during their screenings? Click on Report of Candidate Qualifcations halfway down this page (Warning: HUNDREDS of pages in download).

As you can see in those links, the committee puts a lot of time into the screening process and unfortunately (in my opinion) sometimes the outcome of the elections can boil down to things outside of “qualifications”.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I always vote for the “most qualified”. Even reveiwing the screening reports doesn’t help officials most times.

What criteria goes into determing votes? Well, I wouldn’t speak for all 170 members but I do know of a varitey of criteria based on my five years in office…in no particular order.


* Qualifications
: Obviously this should be the priority.

* Who’s “turn” is it? Most folks rarely win on their first attempt. Sometimes a candidate’s position is bolstered “next time” if they “withdrew” to clear the way for another candidate in a previous election last year or years earlier. Or…some judicial districts cover multiple counties…is it “County X’s” turn to have the seat or “County Y’s”?

* Who’s from what area? Obviously, most officials will support their constituent(s) or candidates from their county.

* Who has the backing of whom? Believe it or not, officials receive several phone calls from candidate’s friends. Friends that just happen to live in the official’s voting district or maybe work at the same company as the official. Or,….what certain elected leaders are backing certain candidates? Some officials may want to curry favor with that leader/group by supporting his/her candidate?

* What might a vote mean to the official giving it? The proverbial “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”

If you’re intersted, below are the individuals the Judicial Merit Selection Commission found QUALIFIED AND NOMINATED. Your next group of judges will come from this list.

SUPREME COURT
Seat 5 The Honorable Donald W. Beatty, Spartanburg, S.C.

COURT OF APPEALS (Chief Judge)
Seat 5 The Honorable John Cannon Few, Greenville, S.C.
Seat 5 The Honorable Daniel F. Pieper, Hanahan, S.C.
Seat 5 The Honorable Paul E. Short, Jr., Chester, S.C.

CIRCUIT COURT
First Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable Diane Schafer Goodstein, Summerville, S.C.
Second Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Doyet A. “Jack” Early, III, Bamberg, S.C.
Third Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Ralph Ferrell Cothran, Jr., Manning, S.C.
Fourth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Paul M. Burch, Pageland, S.C.
Sixth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Brooks P. Goldsmith, Lancaster, S.C.
Eighth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Frank Robert Addy, Jr., Greenwood, S.C.
Eighth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Donald Bruce Hocker, Laurens, S.C.
Eighth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 Joseph C. Smithdeal, Greenwood, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable George Edward Welmaker, Easley, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 4 The Honorable David Garrison Hill, Greenville, S.C.
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Steven H. John, Little River, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable John Calvin Hayes, III, Rock Hill, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable Lee S. Alford, York, S.C.

At-Large, Seat 8 David Craig Brown, Florence, S.C.
At-Large, Seat 8 Samuel Richardson Hubbard, III, Lexington, S.C.
At-Large, Seat 8 The Honorable Maité Murphy, Summerville, S.C.

FAMILY COURT
First Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable William J. Wylie, Jr., Summerville, S.C.
First Judicial Circuit, Seat 3 The Honorable Nancy Chapman McLin, Summerville, S.C.
Second Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 Dennis M. Gmerek, Ridge Spring, S.C.
Second Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 Vicki Johnson Snelgrove, Aiken, S.C.
Third Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable George Marion McFaddin, Jr., Gable, S.C.
Fourth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Roger E. Henderson, Chesterfield, S.C.
Fifth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Dorothy Mobley Jones, Columbia, S.C.
Fifth Judicial Circuit, Seat 4 The Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, Columbia, S.C.
Fifth Judicial Circuit, Seat 4 Stevens B. Elliott, Columbia, S.C.
Fifth Judicial Circuit, Seat 4 Gwendlyne Young Smalls, Columbia, S.C.
Seventh Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 Phillip K. Sinclair, Spartanburg, S.C.
Seventh Judicial Circuit, Seat 3 The Honorable Usha J. Bridges, Gaffney, S.C.
Eighth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable John M. Rucker, Newberry, S.C.
Ninth Judicial Circuit, Seat 3 The Honorable Judy L. McMahon, Charleston, S.C.
Ninth Judicial Circuit, Seat 6 The Honorable Jack Alan Landis, Moncks Corner, S.C.
Tenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable Timothy Martin Cain, Walhalla, S.C.
Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Kellum Wright Allen, West Columbia, S.C.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Seat 3 The Honorable Jerry Deese Vinson, Jr., Florence, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 Catherine Carr Christophillis, Greenville, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 Harry L. “Don” Phillips, Jr., Greenville, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 William Marsh Robertson, Greenville, S.C.
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 4 The Honorable Alvin D. Johnson, Pickens, S.C.
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable Peter Leach Fuge, Bluffton, S.C.
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable Lisa Allen Kinon, Conway, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 1 The Honorable Robert E. Guess, Union, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 The Honorable David Glenn Guyton, Rock Hill, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 Tony Miller Jones, Rock Hill, S.C.
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2 Angela M. Killian, York, S.C.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW COURT
Seat 3 The Honorable Carolyn Cason Matthews, Columbia, S.C.
Seat 6 LaTonya Dilligard Edwards, Irmo, S.C.
Seat 6 Sebastian Phillip Lenski, Columbia, S.C.
Seat 6 Lee W. Zimmerman, Columbia, S.C.