The South Carolina House has created a special committee to examine how judges are selected.
S.C. House Speaker Murrell Smith said in a letter that the eight Republicans and five Democrats will hold public hearings and then debate a bill which can be introduced by the start of February, a few weeks into the 2024 General Assembly session. Smith has nominated these to the new S.C. Judicial Reform Committee
Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope and Representatives Weston Newton, William Bailey, Micah Caskey, Brandon Guffey, Robby Robbins, Anne Thayer and Chris Wooten are Republican members on the S.C. Judicial Reform Committee. Justin Bamberg, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Russell Ott, Ivory Thigpen and Spencer Wetmore are Democratic House members of the S.C. Judicial Reform Committee.
According to Smith, the South Carolina Legislature elects judges, and while the committee can discuss other systems, such as a system in which judges are appointed by the governor or popularly elected, there does not seem to be enough support for altering the state constitution.
Republicans want the committee to focus on the Judicial Merit Screening Commission, a panel of 10 members appointed by lawmakers to determine whether candidates for judge are qualified, and then narrow them down to three.
In order to give people outside the Legislature more control over that part of the process, critics said the commission shouldn’t just be chosen by lawmakers or limited to three options.
Additionally, Smith wants the committee to examine how lawmakers can assist judges by reducing the backlog of cases or preventing dangerous suspects from being released pending trial.
It will also review the state’s lowest court level, the magistrate level, which is nominated by senators and not by the House.
It is less about individual judges than it is about the system for selecting and holding them accountable, Smith wrote.
Our readers confirm that the entire system is broken. Just last night, MyrtleBeachSC News received this email from a concerned, local resident about Conway, S.C. Attorney Sandye Hicks.
I am hoping to reach David Hucks, the author of a few articles pertaining to attorney Sandye Hicks and the Horry County Family Court System, as GAL in my case as well. I am having nearly identical issues with Ms Hicks as noted in the article posted on 9/14/23. about the poor mom who hasn’t seen her children in a year.
I have not seen my children in many months, having been unjustly taken from me, on my daughter’s 9th birthday, with absolutely no grounds to do so. Sandye Hicks knowingly told the court blatant lies, which were believed without evidence submitted. I am fighting as hard as I can to get help, reaching out to every avenue I can think of to get help returning my children home.
Although I fear retaliation, I am reaching out to make this public.
Hicks is just one common face among an entirely broken system.
SENATOR WES CLIMER SOUNDS OFF ALSO
S.C. Senator Climer vows to block further legislative elections of judges until his colleqgues pass a judicial reform bill.