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Jean Toal Shocker!

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Months after telling her colleagues she planned on stepping down as chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, former liberal activist Jean Toal shocked her fellow justices this week by informing them of her intention to seek another term.

Or part of another term, anyway …

According to state pension law, the 69-year-old Toal is prohibited from serving an additional ten-year term – unless of course she’s able to work out an alleged quid pro quo with members of the S.C. General Assembly to extend her reign past 2015. That seems highly unlikely at this point … in fact several of our sources say Toal may even face problems making it that far.

“People are pissed,” one judicial branch insider told us. “She made it clear she was stepping down and (people) made plans based on that. I think she will find the screening process not to her liking if she follows through on this decision.”

Wow …

Once among the most powerful political figures in the state, Toal has seen her influence wane in recent years. In fact earlier this year she was dealt a humiliating defeat by lawmakers – who narrowly rejected her hand-picked selection for an at-large family court seat.

Don’t get us wrong, she’s still got tremendous pull … but she’s nowhere near as dominating a political force as she once was.

A longtime liberal (like most recent “Republican” S.C. Supreme Court appointees), Toal has repeatedly demonstrated her susceptibility to corruption – as evidenced by the infamous 2007 bar exam scandal (broken exclusively by FITS) as well as the ongoing shadiness demonstrated by her attorney discipline office.

She’s also been involved in several traffic incidents allegedly involving alcohol …

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