Judicial Secrecy

Many county magistrates still on bench past their terms

By RICK BRUNDRETT Update: 3/13/24 - A total of 66 county magistrates statewide remain in "holdover status," according to an updated list released by the S.C. Court Administration office. The latest list was provided after The Nerve on Feb. 23 submitted a written request under the state Freedom of Information...

  • Many county magistrates still on bench past their terms

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Update: 3/13/24 - A total of 66 county magistrates statewide remain in "holdover status," according to an updated list released by the S.C. Court Administration office. The latest list was provided after The Nerve on Feb. 23 submitted a written request under the state Freedom of Information...
  • Ex-lawmakers, others with legislative ties often shoo-ins for S.C. judicial seats

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Update: 3/14/24 - Following is an updated list of the salaries of higher-level state judges, which was released by the S.C. Court Administration office following a Feb. 2 written request by The Nerve under the state Freedom of Information Act: Supreme Court chief justice ($235,186), Supreme Court...
  • Supreme Court justice defends secretive disciplinary system

    By RICK BRUNDRETT At a recent S.C. House special committee hearing on judicial reform, Supreme Court Justice John Kittredge touted the “almost non-existent” number of ethics violations committed by state judges. “Each week, members of the judiciary receive a report of all the ethical violations of judges around the country,...
  • Courting favor? Senator's cases before magistrates raise ethics questions

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Update: 10/16/23- Less than three weeks after this story and a companion investigative piece were published, Gov. Henry McMaster in a letter to the S.C. Senate called for reforms in the magistrate selection process, pointing out that his "relatively recent predecessors adopted or acceded to a custom...
  • S.C. senators maintain strong grip on local magistrates

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Update: 10/16/23- Less than three weeks after this story and a companion investigative piece were published, Gov. Henry McMaster in a letter to the S.C. Senate called for reforms in the magistrate selection process, pointing out that his "relatively recent predecessors adopted or acceded to a custom...
  • Sweeping transparency reforms proposed in House bill

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Citizens would have far easier access to state and local government records and meetings in South Carolina under a wide-ranging S.C. House bill introduced Thursday. The legislation was  based largely on transparency recommendations released in December by the South Carolina Policy Council – The Nerve’s parent organization, said the...
  • S.C. judges could get more raises under Senate bill

    By RICK BRUNDRETT A state senator-lawyer wants the six-figure salaries of S.C. judges to be based on what a federal district judge makes – which typically would guarantee them annual raises. And that could be in addition to any yearly pay hikes authorized in the state budget. State employees, including...
  • Senior judges getting double-dipping perk; records secret

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Most South Carolina workers probably don’t receive big retirement checks from their employers at the same time they’re getting their regular pay. But under state law, eligible senior judges can receive separate “retire-in-place” paychecks equal to 90% of their six-figure salaries. And the law allows them –...
  • Concealed court files reveal freebie judicial trips

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Last year, dozens of state judges attended one or more conferences at pricey resorts hosted by special-interest legal organizations that paid for all or part of their stays, The Nerve found in a review of court administration records. Trip details involving the 77 S.C. Supreme Court, Court...
  • State law keeps judicial income hidden from public

    By RICK BRUNDRETT Under state court rules, judges must avoid even the “appearance of impropriety” in all of their activities, and “minimize the risk of conflict” with their official duties. Citizens, however, typically have no easy way of determining whether the income sources of many South Carolina judges or their...