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AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION REVIEW TO BE “CONFIDENTIALLY” PROVIDED TO CHIEF JUSTICE

FITSNews – March 4, 2008 – A so-called objective review of the S.C. Supreme Court’s controversial disciplinary system won’t be made public, but it will be confidentially provided to Chief Justice Jean Toal and her fellow Justices, according to a memo from the American Bar Association.

“The Committee provides its report and recommendations to the highest court on a confidential basis,” the ABA memo reads.

The ABA committee, which is in Columbia this week preparing its report on the state’s controversial attorney discipline system, is under fire for allowing the Chief Justice to select which attorneys are permitted to speak with it.

“If you’re not a ‘Friend of Jean,’ you get a rejection notice real fast,” said one attorney who spoke with FITSNews on the condition of anonymity. “If anyone in the legislature was relying on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility to help bring honesty, integrity and fairness to our South Carolina attorney discipline system and to the Supreme Court, they are wasting their time.”

One ‘Friend of Jean’ who will be speaking with the panel is Greenville attorney Beattie Ashmore, who currently serves on the State’s Commission on Lawyer Conduct despite the fact that he lied to a judge in 2002 while representing former USC running back Derek Watson.

Sources in Greenville tell FITSNews that Ashmore knowingly lied about Watson’s failure to perform court-mandated community service, but after an alleged intervention by Toal his offense was reduced to “failure to keep proper records.” Ashmore was fined $500 for that offense.

This isn’t the first time Justice Toal has been accused of stacking the deck with her sycophants. Just last month, she was accused of controlling access to another ABA panel which is scheduled to visit South Carolina later this fall. That panel is charged with determining whether or not to grant full accreditation to the Charleston School of Law, which barely met the ABA’s benchmark for that designation last year when the Court made the controversial decision to throw out an entire section of the State Bar Exam last year.

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