Dukes, Newman vying for Circuit Court appointments

cconley@islandpacket.comAugust 27, 2012 

Beaufort County Master in Equity Marvin Dukes III and Beaufort attorney Jared Newman are among 29 people vying for three new at-large Circuit Court judgeships this fall.

Colleton County Magistrate John McLeod and Walterboro attorney Lucius Harvin also have applied for the seats, which the state legislature created this year to tackle the a growing caseload. The legislature also created six new at-large Family Court seats.

Newman and Harvin have applied for seat 14, while Dukes is running for seat 15 and McLeod for seat 16.

Judge Gerald Smoak of Walterboro is seeking reappointment to the 14th Circuit Family Court. He is unopposed for the position, which, like other Circuit Court posts, carries a six-year term.

Candidates who apply for judicial appointments in South Carolina must submit to a lengthy review that tests "ethical fitness, academic ability, character, reputation, physical health, experience, judicial temperament and mental stability," said Jane Shuler, the commission's chief counsel.

The candidates undergo South Carolina Law Enforcement Division background checks, peer reviews, a written exam and interviews with the review commission and a citizens' commission. Candidates must be at least 32 years old, have practiced law for eight years and have lived in the state for five years.

The review will begin next month and end in November. The commission will choose up to three finalists for each judgeship. The S.C. General Assembly then votes to appoint the judges.

State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, has no role in the upcoming review, but he already has heard from several candidates who are trying to introduce themselves well ahead of the legislature's vote.

Herbkersman, who likened the process to a "beauty contest," said judges likely will be appointed early in the 2013 legislative session.

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