Slugging through judicial qualifications

At the end of last week, the South Carolina Bar Association published its assessments of those who intend to seek election by the General Assembly to fill seats in our state’s courts once the Legislature reconvenes in January.

You can see them for yourself at http://www.scbar.org/pdf/JQCNov07.pdf. But be warned, it’s a lot of reading.

Overall, we thought they seemed pretty much on the up-and-up, but some elaboration wouldn’t have hurt. Each judicial candidate’s background and qualifications were discussed, but only in two paragraph summaries. While each write-up gave a pretty good idea most of these people were pretty smart people with decent legal careers, it would have been nice to see more of the considerable feedback that helped guide their judgments as to how fit candidates really were to serve.

We did think they were being a bit unfair to two candidates, Judge Russo, who presently sits on the 12th at-large Circuit Court seat and is seeking another term, and Betsy Burton, who is seeking Seat 2 of the Family Court in the Sixth Circuit. They mentioned both candidates had their law licenses suspended for failure to pay bar fees, but that both matters had been resolved … so why bring those issues up at all?

Linda Lombard, currently a Magistrate in Charleston County, former Chair of Charleston County Council, and a long-time figure in Lowcountry government and politics, was the only candidate found unqualified for the job she was seeking: the 13th at-large Circuit Court seat:

During phone interviews, most members of the Bar expressed concerns about Judge Lombard’s temperament and experience. When questioned about these concerns, Judge Lombard denied any problems. Based upon the information and the interview, Judge Lombard lacks the experience and the temperament required for the position of Circuit Court Judge. Based on the information and the interview, the Committee reports that it is the collective opinion that the candidate is not qualified to serve as a Circuit Court Judge.

To be fair, we certainly would have liked to have seen a transcript or maybe sampling of some of those remarks made about her by interviewees. Especially in light of her long record of public service, including as a Magistrate.

While each of the three above cases were somewhat puzzling, the one finding that made us want to reach for our drug-test kits and check a few members of the Bar out was their finding that DuPree, a Charleston attorney, seeking the open Circuit Court seat in the Ninth Circuit, was somehow “qualified”:


Several members of the Bar raised questions about Mr. DuPree’s temperament. The Committee questioned Mr. DuPree about his temperament, and he candidly admitted that he can easily lose his temper. He does not believe that this will affect his ability to be a judge. Based on the information and interview, the Committee reports that it is the collective opinion that the candidate is qualified to serve as a Circuit Court Judge.

As we ponder Mr. DuPree’s claims that his temperament issues won’t affect his ability to serve as a judge, we have to wonder how hitting cops might affect his ability to serve:

Dupree struggled with police officers who tried to arrest him at the hotel after they responded to a report of a fight, according to a police report. Hotel security workers told police DuPree had argued with his wife and then fought with two men who tried to intervene, police said.

- Charleston Post & Courier, October 21, 2003


While DuPree admitted fighting with the cops, his excuse was rather lamely based upon “the fact that DuPree got into a fistfight before his Oct. 5 arrest at the Charleston Riverview Hotel on Lockwood Drive”.

An attorney getting off the hook for fighting with cops? Only in a world where well-connected attorneys are fit to judge themselves. The Blogland is willing to bet that if most of our readers took a shot at a cop, the charges wouldn’t be dropped.

In light of this history of conduct towards law enforcement officers, as well as showing how short a fuse the guy has, we believe that DuPree’s temperament is indeed relevant to the issue of his qualifications.

In the wake of the much-discussed Bar Exam grading mess, we can’t help but wonder what is going on. If you are too, please feel free to speak up – we’d love to hear from you.

13 Response to "Slugging through judicial qualifications"

  1. Anonymous 18/11/07 22:48
    Be warned that some of us are getting sick and tired of you speaking out of place and without our approval. You will be sorry you ever stuck your nose into this judicial race, bet on it.
  2. Anonymous 18/11/07 23:11
    earl, i see you're making people mad. plesae quit before they start shooting at you ... or crying for their mothers.
  3. Anonymous 18/11/07 23:23
    Anyone familiar with the circumstyances of the fight with the Police will conclude that the subject is unfit to judge anything,
  4. Anonymous 19/11/07 08:20
    2323 - when you say "the subject is unfit to judge anything", are you referring to DuPree or Capps?
  5. bullbythehorns 19/11/07 09:52
    I understand that when you are up for a position such as judge of any circuit, that you would have had to have worked hard to even be considered for the position, unless you happen to 'know someone'. The general public does not even get to vote for this position, so I don't really see all the need for the anger. The only people you have to convince that you are 'worthy' of the position is the general assembly. So good luck to all with that endeavourer. Might I just add that being a judge or wanting to be a judge requires someone that has not only knowledge of the law, but someone that has a good temperament. I mean you certainly can't be sitting on the bench and all of a sudden get pissed off and attack a defendant, which leads to self-control, which you must have as well. I would think that fairness would be pretty high up there too. I would even throw in a little compassion at times when needed. And you must have the respect of your peers to include the prosecutors and defense attorneys. I believe I read an interview on this blog on one of the contenders for the 9th circuit position. After reading that interview along with all of the comments that were left by not only her peers and friends, but even a mother of a victim, seems to me she possesses all of the qualities that would make her a great judge and after reading about everyone else, good luck to them and congratulations on being considered for that position. I hope that the general assembly uses their knowledge to pick the best candidate and not the good ole boy system that seems to still exist in the great state of South Carolina.
  6. columbia airport on the way to chicago moye 19/11/07 13:26
    if it was left up to the lawyers they would be the only people in politics
  7. Anonymous 19/11/07 14:09
    Codify the Rules of Professional Conduct since obviously the bar cannot regulate themselves. If they were a mobile home dealer, real estate agent, insurance agent , etc... the guy with the arrest provided there was a conviction would not have a license.

    Point is that they have failed to regulate themselves repeatedly ,however, who would trust a lawyer anyway.
  8. Anonymous 19/11/07 14:11
    Further, you can solve the problem of temperment by allowing the people to vote on judges. The political process will definitely weed out those without cooler heads.
  9. Anonymous 20/11/07 13:21
    earl, if you keep messing with my friends, i'm gonna smack you up.
  10. Anonymous 20/11/07 15:19
    isn't that hot chick that you profiled running for that seat as well? sounds like she's a lot more qualified than this crazy mo-fo eve ways.
  11. ToTOALed 24/11/07 16:33
    You'd better watch it there.

    We're fit to judge ourselves in this here state.
  12. Anonymous 28/11/07 11:39
    that lawyer sounds like OJ to me.
  13. Anonymous 28/11/07 22:17
    Temper? They should survey the bar about the temper of circuit judge Markley Dennis. Lots of loose screws in a major way.

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