SENATE PRESIDENT SETTLING OLD SCORES ON JUDICIAL SELECTION PANEL …
We typically take the advice of our attorneys.
For example, when they said don’t publish the names of a certain ex-S.C. lawmaker’s alleged sexual harassment victims … we listened. Or when they said don’t expose a ridiculous lawsuit filed against us (at least not yet) … we listened.
But for once, we’re ignoring the advice of one of our lawyers (our top lawyer, actually) … who point blank asked us not to publish this story (right after refusing to comment for it).
Pete Strom is the best lawyer in the Palmetto State. He’s a former U.S. attorney, tactical/ political genius and for the last five years he’s been our founding editor’s go-to-guy when it comes to the myriad legal entanglements that go with speaking truth to power.
You’ve heard of chess players who “see the whole board?” That’s him.
Anyway, Strom ran for a seat on the University of South Carolina board of trustees last year against liberal attorney William C. Hubbard … a guy who is so corrupt state lawmakers previously had to draft legislation in an effort to contain his unethical, self-serving behavior.
Unfortunately Hubbard had the backing of uber-liberal S.C. “Godfather of Pork” Hugh Leatherman – the most powerful politician in the state. So he defeated Strom – and won reelection to the USC board.
End of story, right? Wrong.
Leatherman was apparently so pissed that Strom challenged his “made guy” that he’s now exacting further vengeance. Specifically, he’s removed Strom from the S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission and replaced him with Michael Hitchcock – one of the guys who helped run the state’s pension fund completely into the ground.
What does Hitchcock know about selecting good judges? Um … not a damn thing. He’s a Leatherman lackey – meaning he’s there to rubber stamp whichever judicial nominees the “Godfather” chooses.
Sound like “judicial merit” to you? Hell no …
This website has repeatedly railed against judicial corruption in South Carolina – and at times we’ve had less-than-flattering things to say about this particular commission. Of course the judicial selection process is much less corrupt than the legislative elections which follow, and Strom was one of the few members of this politically dominated panel who actually vetted the nominees.
Hell, six of the ten members of the panel are politicians. And some of them are even lawyer-legislators.
All they know about “judicial merit” is which judges they can get to do their bidding.
That’s sad …
Competence should drive judicial selection, not politics. Strom provided that to the selection committee, whereas Hitchcock will provide nothing but a proxy for a corrupt politician.
Anyway, we understand why Strom didn’t want us to write about any of this. But this is far too important a story to ignore. With all the talk of judicial reform in South Carolina, this is the perfect example of how real reform is never going to happen as long as lawmakers control the judges.
It’s time to end legislative election of judges in South Carolina … because there’s simply no aspect of it that isn’t corrupt to the core.