9 Elected Solicitors are asking South Carolina House Speaker Murrell Smith and Senator Luke Rankin (Chair of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission) to remove State Representative Todd Rutherford from the JSMC. These solicitors in a signed letter have asked this based on a pattern of Rutherford (an Attorney) receiving in some cases unlawful and questionable outcomes in his criminal cases.
“We believe the improper appearance created by Rep. Rutherford exerting … undue influence (on the judiciary) stems from his membership on JMSC, which allows him to pick which judicial candidates are nominated for election by the General Assembly, the letter read, which was signed by David Pascoe of the 1st Circuit, Ernest “Chip” Finney III of the 3rd Circuit, David Stumbo of the 8th Circuit, Scarlett Wilson of the 9th Circuit, David Wagner of the 10th Circuit, Rick Hubbard of the 11th Circuit, E.L. Clements III of the 12th Circuit and Kevin Brackett of the 16th Circuit.
This is the newest in a long line of recent calls for reform of the JSMC. Many Legislators have begun demanding that the JSMC reform its make up to include less attorney’s. The JSMC is responsible for confirming and re-confirming the elections of South Carolina’s Judges.
In a past demand it was asked that Senator Luke Rankin be removed due to conflict of interest with his law practice. Senator Rankin on his firm’s page states he has a 99% success rate in court.
Numerous state officials are calling for major reforms to the way judges are selected in the state, with leaders saying the current system lacks transparency and fairness. Several non-attorney legislators are voicing their constituents call of “TOO MANY LAWYERS” sitting on this commission.
In 2018, this very commission failed to address the issue brought before it pertaining to Family Court Judge at Large Monet Pincus. The Commission even failed to inform the legislature that there was an issue raised her the re-confirmation hearing, or that they held a closed door session, which violated the states guidelines on Judicial hearings.
South Carolina is only one of two states that allows the legislative body to elect it’s judges.