State House

South Carolina Elects New Supreme Court Justice

Letitia Verdin chosen to fill vacant spot on Palmetto State’s high court …

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A joint session of the South Carolina General Assembly unanimously elected state appeals court judge Letitia Verdin as the next justice of the supreme court on Wednesday (June 5, 2024). Verdin’s election – which our media outlet predicted several months ago – puts a woman back on the Palmetto State’s high court after it went a little over a year without one.

Verdin, 53, of Travelers Rest, S.C. was the only remaining candidate in the race after her two rivals – fellow appeals court judge Blake Hewitt and S.C. circuit court judge Jocelyn Newman – dropped out last week.

According to our sources, Verdin had the votes needed to claim the seat from the very beginning – and was ultimately elected by a 152-0 margin.

Verdin will fill the seat on the court being vacated by chief justice Donald Beatty, who is stepping down on July 31, 2024. Upon his resignation, Beatty – a former Democratic House member – will have served more than seven years as chief justice and more than 17 years in total on the high court.

Did his reign facilitate justice in South Carolina? No … not at all.

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Which begs an important question: Why did a Republican-controlled legislature – one ostensibly committed to public safety, victims’ rights and judicial integrity – appoint him in the first place?

Sadly, such is life in the uniparty-led Palmetto State … although as I noted previously Verdin’s election is believed by many to mark a shift back to a more conservative high court.

Three months ago, lawmakers elected Beatty’s successor as chief justice, 67-year-old John Kittredge of Greenville. Kittredge – who has served on the court since 2008 – was unanimously tapped by the S.C. General Assembly to fill this role on March 7, 2024.

Under the auspices of the scandal-scarred S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC), the Palmetto State is one of only two states in America in which lawmakers pick judges – a notoriously corrupt and self-serving process which has obliterated judicial integrity, enabled institutional corruption, endangered victims’ rights and materially eroded public safety in South Carolina.

Are the powerful lawyer-legislators who control and profit from this corrupt system ever going to fix it? Don’t bet on it …

“Lawmakers failed absolutely and abjectly on the issue of judicial reform during the current legislation session,” I noted earlier this spring. “They had a chance to make sweeping, transformative, long-overdue change to a glaringly corrupt system … instead, they chose to play procedural games and preserve the power they have habitually abused for decades.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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1 comment

CongareeCatfish Top fan June 6, 2024 at 9:51 am

So now that Beatty is out are we going to get a bona fide investigation into Judge Manning’s “last hour”, secret squirrel highjinx with Mr. Rutherford AND the state’s prosecutor who played along with the illegal procedure? Or are the people in charge going to be cowards because they are afraid of the inevitable race card being played against them by these three black men as their only defense to this collusion? You can rest assured there would be an entirely different story in the press if this bullshit was done by some white legislator-lawyer with a white retiring judge to let out a convicted murderer sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence who was member of the Aryan Nation…..

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