Verdict In: Trial Lawyers Beaten Down In SC

WEALTHY SPECIAL INTEREST TAKES IT ON THE CHIN …  By FITSNEWS || The 2014 election was a brutal one for South Carolina Democrats.  Up and down the ballot, they were mercilessly hammered – and as a result have effectively ceased to exist as a minority party in the Palmetto State….


By FITSNEWS || The 2014 election was a brutal one for South Carolina Democrats.  Up and down the ballot, they were mercilessly hammered – and as a result have effectively ceased to exist as a minority party in the Palmetto State.  Of course if 2014 was dismal for Democrats, it was downright devastating for one of their core constituencies – the trial lawyer lobby.

Heading into the year, hopes were exceedingly high for this wealthiest and most powerful of South Carolina special interests.

The big prize?  South Carolina’s wide open governor’s mansion … and its appointment power over multiple boards and commissions with a direct impact on the legal profession.  Beyond that, trial lawyers talked openly about picking up seats in the S.C. General Assembly – including taking out crusading ethics reformer S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay and replacing him with one of their own, Columbia, S.C. shyster Joe McCulloch.

The trial lawyer lobby had the money, the manpower and the motivation to accomplish their objectives, too … and yet they still lost.  Badly.

What happened?  How did they fail to take out “Republican” Nikki Haley (who should have been one of the most vulnerable governors in America)?  And how did they fail to oust Finlay from his seat (in what is basically a Democratic district)?

Let’s rewind the clocks, shall we?


On April 9, 2014, this website published an article about Haley’s Democratic challenger entitled “Vincent Sheheen has a Problem.” In the story, we referenced how GOP operatives had obtained records of Sheheen – himself a trial lawyer – working to get a child molester’s sentence reduced from ten years to thirty-eight days.  Not surprisingly, upon being released the offender went on to molest numerous additional children (including a 13-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy).

Sheheen’s response – namely that he was just doing his job and the court system, not him, was to blame for freeing the man – made sense.  But it didn’t matter.  By the end of the month, Sheheen’s efforts on behalf of such unsavory characters had formed the basis of a sustained ad blitz by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) – dealing the Democratic nominee’s candidacy a blow from which it would never recover.

While one trial lawyer-friendly candidate was being eviscerated, into the fray stepped another – former S.C. circuit court judge Tom Ervin (who officially launched his petition candidacy against Haley on April 11).

We liked Ervin – who branded himself an “independent Republican.” He adopted a lot of sensible positions.  More than a few fiscally conservative ones, too – including expanded parental choice in education and the elimination of the state’s individual income tax.  Unlike his Democratic counterpart Ervin ran a substantive race, too – one backed by more than $2 million of his own money (or money belonging to him and his wife, Upstate workers compensation attorney Kathryn Williams).

Yet despite this massive investment, Ervin went nowhere.  In fact when he dropped out of the race to endorse Sheheen with a week before Election Day, he was still drawing support in the single digits.

Ouch …

Had Ervin managed to become a threat, GOP sources tell FITS a bloodletting similar to the one that befell Sheheen was in the works – one focusing on his proximity (and that of his wife) to the trial lawyer lobby.

They never had to throw the punch, though …

In the race to unseat Finlay – a first-term Republican – the trial lawyers had perhaps their best strategic insight, which was to go directly after the issue that defined his strength: Ethics reform.

With no thought as to the galling hypocrisy, the trial lawyers pushed a narrative that Finlay was drafting specific reform legislation with an eye on saving the skin of former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (who resigned his office last month after pleading guilty to six public corruption charges).

Was the allegation true?  No … not even a little bit (as this website made clear on numerous occasions).

But that didn’t stop them from pushing it … with liberal mainstream media outlets like The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper eagerly lapping it up.

Fortunately for Finlay, he had the money to push back against the false allegations … which begs the question of why the trial lawyers targeted him for defeat in the first place.  Seriously: We get that his House district leans Democratic, but there were other important factors to consider.  For example, in addition to his vast personal wealth Finlay had a considerable base of Democratic support from which to draw.  Did the trial lawyers not factor that into their “strategery?”

Apparently not …

Obviously anything can happen moving forward, but 2014 was truly a toxic year to be a trial lawyer in South Carolina.  Their multiple failures – as candidates, strategists and monied interests – caused their stock to fall sharply this election cycle.


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nitrat November 10, 2014 at 8:16 am

“…2014 was truly a toxic year to be a trial lawyer in South Carolina.”
Unless, of course, you were one of the many, many, many trial lawyers Trikki appoints to head state agencies or be on the boards and commissions that run them.
BTW, that should have been Sheheen’s counter to the trial lawyer ads…that Trikki has probably appointed more lawyers to state agencies, boards and commissions than any governor in history. She appears to believe passing the bar qualifies a person to do anything just short of brain surgery.
That might be connected to the fact she couldn’t get herself licensed in her own field of study.

GrandTango November 10, 2014 at 8:21 am

I’m SO glad Dumb@$$#$ like you got your @$$#$ kicked..You bought in to all the Bull-$#!t FITS ladled to you…and it is so funny to see you w/ my hand print upside your ugly face….(figuratively of course)….

Most people think you are a Freakin’ IDIOT!!!!…and they are RIGHT…LMAO….

Shyster attorney November 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

Thank God someone here has a brain! You took the words right out of my mouth -nearly all of them.

Chris November 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

Revenue. DHEC. Corrections. DEW. LLR. All lawyer directors. Every one.

TyroneMamaCollards November 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

Sheheen did not want to get his hands dirty. He is basking in his own wealth and power. So is McCullough who lost to Finlay. White SC Dems are affluent, well-to-do, educated, and arrogant. They think they do not have to get their hands dirty. You don’t think Sheheen would go door to door in Columbia’s poor black neighborhoods and ask for their vote, do you? Dems need to stop thinking about their comfort and power and start relating to the base they freed up in 1965 with President Johnson’s laws.

shifty henry November 10, 2014 at 11:13 am

There’s a guy who is a brilliant attorney even though he never graduated from law
school. He settled out of class. He says that most attorneys practice because
it gives them a grand and glorious feeling. Hand them a grand and they feel
glorious. His law office was held up recently – the stickup man lost two
hundred dollars.

GrandTango November 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

Bigger question: Will they quit feeding FITS w/ campaign money payoffs, since he proved WORTHLESS – save for the kiss of death – to any and all political campaigns?

C’mon over the SCPSD. We told you who the winners would be, and we told you the media, and FITS, were lying to you…

Believe us now????? LMAO….

PS: We have a good piece up today about Haley’s future and the NEXT gov. of SC. Along w/ a piece about how The State newspaper TOTALLY screwed up analyzing the election results… A sports piece on are you to the point of hoping the SC defense fails, so the D coaching staff is terminated? Great, edge-cutting, stuff…enjoy (: …

Old RC lawyer November 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

Lawyers in South Carolina are led by the most corrupt of them all – Jean Hoefer Toal – and they wonder why the respect for the profession continue to go further down daily. Duh

idcydm November 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

Remember the good ole days when the Marlboro Man was on TV but trial lawyers weren’t.

RogueElephant November 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

Personally , I think the cigarettes were less harmful than the trial lawyers. At least when you stepped on a cigarette it went out.

shifty henry November 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

A very wealthy lawyer is approached by a charity worker who is concerned that the lawyer didn’t
donate any money to charity, despite making over two million dollars that year.

“First of all,” says the lawyer, “my mother is bedridden and gets no help from social services. Second, I have five kids through three marriages and divorces. Third, my sister’s husband recently died and she has no one to support her four children.”

“I’m terribly sorry,” says the charity worker, “I feel bad about asking for your money.”

” So you should,” replies the lawyer. “If I’m not giving them any money, why should I give you any?”

RogueElephant November 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

Goes back to the old joke : Why won’t a shark attack a lawyer? Professional courtesy. LOL

shifty henry November 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting
attorney attacked a witness. “Isn’t it true,” he bellowed, “that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?”

The witness stared out the window, as though he hadn’t heard the question. “Isn’t it true that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?” the lawyer repeated.

The witness still did not respond. Finally, the judge leaned over and said, “Sir, please answer the question.”

“Oh,” the startled witness said, “I thought he was
talking to you.”

Bill November 10, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I guessing you are a divorcee or criminal.

Walter Sobjak November 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Dude, he’s a pederast

TyroneMamaCollards November 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

No the trial lawyers are still rich and powerful; it was the black base that failed to show up and vote on Tuesday. Dems could have had the whole state had the blacks showed up at the polls. Voter turnout was one of the lowest ever. But the GOP had laser-like focus and troops on the ground, a superb strategy. And they won.

Bill November 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

Ah, I see the President of the Larry Craig, lawyers made me confess to a crime I did not commit, so I hate lawyers club, is back to bashing lawyers again.
People who hate lawyers fall into one of the following categories:
1. People who went through an nasty divorce and had to give their spouse more than they wanted to.
2. Criminals whose lawyer could not get them off.
3. People who were prevented from screwing someone by a lawyer.
4. People who screwed someone and a lawyer made them pay for it.
5. People who have never used a lawyer but who believe everything the right wing media says.
The truth is that allege libertarians and far right capitalist, speak out of both sides of their mouth. They say the free market will regulate everything, and that fear of litigation will prevent companies from killing people, but they want to hobble the very group who would protect the public in their free market utopia. I.E. companies should be able to do anything they want without consequence. That is the free market.

idiot myshkin November 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm

really? I’m willing to accept that you’re a plant trying to make lawyers look bad, in which case i really am as stupid as i look, but in case you aren’t; Would it hurt to consider the current incarnation of the legal profession referenced in this article has made the temptation to avarice a virtue, and demanded to be called justice warriors for doing so, when in reality the profession has become an occassion to sin for people at their weakest moment.

Bill November 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm

So which of the 5 are you? Because I know you are one.

Tom November 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Sounds like a divorcee to me, or a doctor who committed malpractice, but I will play.
1. Why should a lawyer tell you what you can or cannot do. If you want to sue someone and have a case, isn’t that your decision? Not the lawyers?
2. Capitalism is all about making the temptation to avarice a virtue. That is what you right wingers all worship.
Lets face it. You lost money to somebody and you are pissed about it.

Tired and Retired November 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

With substantial contributions to legislators’ campaign funds, and with a number of trial lawyers serving in the General Assembly, the Trial Lawyers can still effectively oppose appointees to Boards and Commissions when they believe an appointee might not be inclined to make liberal awards.

Crooner November 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm

You’re dead wrong on this one. The wealthiest and most powerful special interest group won big in SC and elsewhere. It’s the billionaire lobby, led by the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adleson, and Wall Street hedge fund interests. This powerful group took full advantage of the misguided Citizens United Supreme Court opinion to convince the uneducated electorate that the Obama presidency has been an unmitigated disaster- despite every objective measure screaming the opposite conclusion.

Why the average Republican thinks his interests are aligned with these billionaires is beyond comprehension. Their only desire is to keep taxes low so they can make more money than they know what to do with and keep inflation low so their accumulated wealth retains it’s value. And, in the case of the Kochs, keep fossil fuels in favor so they can exploit their resources regardless of the effect on our environment.

As for trial lawyers, look for ALEC, Cjamber of Commerce and others to eliminate the contingent fee arrangement, thereby closing the courthouse doors to average Americans. Which is all well and good until someone gets hurt. And rest assured, someone will.

Six ft. Under Makes Us All Eq November 10, 2014 at 8:53 pm

“Why the average Republican thinks his interests are aligned with these billionaires is beyond comprehension.”

Two words…. Lee Atwater….He came up with a way to get the average semi-educated white guy (typically 50’s & up )to vote for candidates who would raise taxes on him while cutting them for the wealthiest!! Lee Atwater figured out all you had to do was appeal to things he dislikes or hates….real or imagined. Play on stereotypes of the welfare queens, dope heads, and criminals…THEN convince the white voting block all of the above mentioned are minorities, not them.

All of a sudden, we have blue collar workers looking down their noses at other blue collar workers simply because they have a different skin color or are an immigrant. The goal of all of this is to take peoples’ attention from the real villains and that is the filthy wealthy not paying any taxes, living off their capital gains of which they pay 15% if that and meanwhile have the rest of their money hidden overseas.

Psychological mind games..Republican politicians are masters at it!

nitrat November 11, 2014 at 8:13 am

“Why the average Republican thinks his interests are aligned with these billionaires is beyond comprehension. ”

It means what I call ‘Plantation Massa Syndrome’, an affliction which somehow motivated poor white Southerners to go fight and die for the right of the rich guy down the road to keep slaves, has spread across the country.
And, ‘Six ft. Under…’ below is correct, the vector was Lee Atwater.

Ghost of Lee Atwater November 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I held my nose and voted for Sheheen in 2010. I wasn’t happy about it, but I just did not like the vibe from Haley (and my instincts were right, again). However, the whole Tom Ervin stunt was bridge too far. Ervin’s campaign was like a Trojan Horse built by some folks much less enlightened or cunning than the ancient Greeks.

For a group of guys that fancy themselves as the smartest guys in the room, the trial lawyers really shit the bed on this one.

jurisdoc November 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm

I’ll take my ass whipping in the election, but talk about hypocrisy. Fits reported Finlay was a sponsor of a bill doing exactly what Joe accused him of….trying to free Harrell. I’d take the time to find the links, but apparently if you say it isn’t so enough times you actually believe it.

BTW, who represented you when you where charged with CDV? Everybody hates a lawyer till they need one.

FastEddy23 November 11, 2014 at 10:46 am

… and even then.

FastEddy23 November 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I’m shocked! … Shocked!! … to discover there are slip’n’falls being appointed to g’ment orifaces in the great State of South Carolina.

Can we name names here? Or would the hit list be too long?

9" November 11, 2014 at 5:53 am

South Carolina’s only future,now,is as a radioactive penal colony..

Dan on Divine November 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

And in the mean time, Toal adoring (:”Long time family friend,” he said), Sheheen clone, weaker than dirt, idealistic liar, James Smith is “testing the waters” on a run for governor as a Democrat. The Democrats are going further down. Really.

Christopher Everspark November 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm

It’s interesting how the tide changed in this election cycle.


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