The election for S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice should be very soon, a week or so. Though it is suicidal to oppose anyone of power in this state, I feel it necessary to speak out on the subject, which I have by sending the letter below to every Senator and Representative in the S.C. Legislature.
Though Jean Toal, current chief justice, has been said to be a potent force behind the scenes in many cases and political activities in this state, including some I watch closely, my main opposition to her reelection is the lack of any punishment in her hit and run cases, which you may read about in some of the articles linked below. The average citizen would face much legal action, most likely handcuffed and at least some jail time before posting bail, and who knows what else? But like mayor Benjamin, she got off far easier than any citizen would, with no major fault found.
The law is quite clear on hit and run, and DUI. To have a politician, judge, and any other government official that makes and/or enforces the law, not face at least what the lowest of us must, smacks of something very questionable. In her case, it seems the honorable action would have been to resign. But she did not, even after twice leaving the scene of the accident.
People in high places do have advantage, and it takes a lot to have them answer for their violations. A legislator is stopped on capital grounds, unstable, slurring, smelling, and his attorney, another legislator, claims it was a rock in his shoe. Legislators have questionable financial reports, and their peers are the judges of their own, so they get off, unless so egregious a case, blood flows from it. They speed to the State House, far exceeding the limit, but it is OK as they have written the law so it allows them the liberty to speed, even though we get a large fine, and possibly jail, if we went at some of their speeds. The list goes on.
Power, position, money: they speak on a level that we, the average citizen, cannot. Ethics reform must include all three branches, not just two. And there must be independent oversight. At present, within the judicial system of our state, the chief justice is part of the oversight of magistrates, judges, and attorneys. This is a festering sore among those in the legal field, just as it is among us outside of it. But no one steps up to say publicly, at least not if they are involved in the legal/political system in S.C. A legislator flatly stated that legislators are afraid in this chief justice election. Attorneys must stay on good graces as the Office of Disciplinary Council (ODC) answers directly to the chief justice. There is a case I am following closely where the ODC cleared an attorney of a complaint without any personal interview of the complainant, and when they cleared the attorney, they would not reveal why. Yet it appears that the hard evidence shows a blatant legal violation, one that will be appealed. Retribution comes in many stealthy ways.
Power, money, position, and behind the scenes knowledge all give advantage that we, the lowly citizens, will never know.
If you want to write to the legislature either yea or nay, go here.
Joseph Azar is the owner of Upstairs Audio in downtown Columbia, S.C.
ARTICLES ATTACHED BY AUTHOR
Time For Chief Justice Jean Toal To Retire (PJ Media)
Chief Justice Jean Toal To Seek Reelection (WIS News)
The Jean Toal Driving Experience Rolls On (FITSNews)
Chief Justice Jean Toal Of South Carolina; Scofflaw, Arrogant, Moron, Liar (No Ethics)
Justice Pleicones Will Face Toal (The State)
Jean Toal Articles (FITSNews)
Scoppe: More At Stake In Chief Justice Race (The State)