Letters to the Editor

Demand accountability from SC judicial system

Your excellent article highlighted just a small portion of the procedural "irregularities" that many judges commit on a daily basis. They do because they can, and their motives or their "reasoning" is often unclear, unstated and unlawful.

Pervasive obscurity and unbridled power exists in the judiciary because there is no genuine, functional oversight except in the extraordinary measures your paper has taken to achieve transparency in the few cases mentioned.

The fault lies in a system that relies upon judges to be self-monitoring, assuming that the judiciary is a class of Americans beyond reproach and immune to the human frailty that challenges the rest of us. This, of course, is unrealistic, whether a judge is elected or appointed. Rather, as the saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The 2013 Annual Report of the S.C. Commission on Judicial Conduct states that of 326 complaints that year, 282 were dismissed. Only 16 resulted in disciplinary action: nine letters of caution, one admonition, and six public reprimands. More than 85 percent of these complaints were filed by litigants, and 76 percent were about judicial "fairness/bias/prejudice." Panels investigating these complaints met only four times that year, with only one meeting of the full commission. Their annual budget was not available.

True justice and public trust cannot exist in a system where the facts are arbitrarily withheld from its constituents. The judicial system is a public institution, funded by the taxpayer, to uphold our system of law and we should demand authentic accountability.

Kate McClintic