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Peeved Judge’s Lawsuit Stalls Judicial Selection Process in South Carolina

Posted Jan 27, 2010 10:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A family court judge who was deemed unqualified by South Carolina’s Judicial Merit Selection Commission has filed a lawsuit challenging legislators’ control of the screening body.

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear the case as a matter of original jurisdiction, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. The commission vice chairman is planning to stop screening of judicial candidates and halt an election scheduled for Feb. 3 until the issues are resolved, the Post and Courier reported in a separate story.

Six of the merit selection commission’s 10 members are required to be legislators, the State reports. The commission determines which judicial applicants are qualified and submits up to three nominees to the general assembly, according to a summary of the procedure by the American Judicature Society. A vote by the general assembly determines the winner.

The judge challenging the process is F.P. "Charlie" Segars-Andrews of Mount Pleasant. She claims the makeup of the commission violates a state law barring dual office-holding and violates the constitutionally mandated separation of powers.

The commission didn’t recommend Segars-Andrews because she failed to recuse herself in a divorce case. The lawyer for the ex-wife in the case had shared a large fee with the firm that employs Segars-Andrews’ husband.

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