Two birthdays, two parties, one county: Cathy Harvin and Moye Graham

Special New Year's Eve Birthday wishes go out to two of Clarendon County's top politicos: State Rep Cathy Harvin (D-Summerton) and Clarendon County GOP Chair Moye Graham (R-Graham Slough). While they may not share a lot of positions on issues, at least they share New Year's Eve as their birthdays.

When we first saw this photo (Harvin and Graham are the two in the center), we believed that they were plotting a party switch, but we now suspect they may have been planning a bi-partisan birthday party..

Sources close to the Blogland informed us of the following:

  • Rep. Harvin is dreading the prospects that every birthday is one closer to turning 30, and
  • Moye Graham was having so much fun celebrating his birthday, the folks on the other side of Lake Marion from his house called the cops.
In any other universe, these two political opposites sharing a birthday might seem strange, but when you consider that this IS South Carolina, it doesn't seem so out of place.

Free Tigh Croff ... "absolutely"

We don't know Tigh Croff. We've never been to Detroit. But from where we stand, Mr. Croff has more sense in cleaning the streets of human vermin than a lot of people:

Tigh Croff’s home in Detroit had been broken into three times in the last week.

So when he found two men in his backyard on the block of Manistique at 12:30 a.m. Monday, the east-side resident — who is licensed to carry a gun — gave chase, Detroit police said.

One man got away. The other stopped running, turned around, put his hands up and, according to a police source, taunted the 31-year-old homeowner.

“What are you going to do?” Herbert Silas of Detroit reportedly asked, his hands still in the air. “Shoot me?”

“Absolutely,” Croff told investigators he replied before pulling the trigger, the source said. Silas was hit once in the chest, killing him.

For attemping to clean up the streets, Croff was charged with second-degree murder, which we think is about as outrageous as it gets. In the Blogland, you break into a home, you take your chances. Perhaps the fate of Mr. Silas will serve as a deterrent to other aspiring criminals.

In an age where we're supposed to tolerate and "understand" street punks instead of getting them off the streets and putting some on death row, Mr. Croff is entitled to some understanding as well - and a community service award.

We can only hope that Mr. Croff, after having been victimized four times in a week by criminals, will not be further victimized by a failing judicial system.

The Blogland goes Upstate

Thanks go out to all those who took the time to meet with yours truly over the last two days in the first round of the holiday Palmetto State tour. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated.

Part Two of the holiday tour begins tomorrow, taking me to the Upstate, where I'll be until Sunday. While I've got a few meetings planned, meeting my readers is important to me as well.

So ... if you're reading this and are interested in meeting up, drop me an email and we'll see what can be worked out.

The Blogland hits the road

It's the holiday season and the Blogland is hitting the road, going places and meeting with friends across the Palmetto State.

From time to time, I like to hit the road and invite my readers to meet in person so I can learn a little bit more about them and what's on their minds. If you're interested, just drop me an email and let me know you're interested. I'll be glad to work out a time and place to meet.

I'll be in Myrtle Beach Monday night and Tuesday, and in the Midlands and Upstate from Thursday through Sunday.

Inside Interview: State Senator Tom Davis

Beaufort Senator Tom Davis may be wrapping up his first year in the Senate, but he’s no newcomer to state politics. He served as Chief of Staff for Governor Sanford, returning to Beaufort to defeat Senator Catherine Ceips in one of last year’s most high-profile legislative races.

We have to give the guy credit. Even though the Blogland has been no friend to Governor Sanford, Davis' former employer, he reached out to us quickly after winning his Senate race in the summer of last year.

A fellow Catholic, he’s an attorney by profession who lives in Beaufort with his wife and their three daughters. He even met with yours truly and my daughter Bonnie for lunch recently and agreed to answer a few questions to help our readers learn a little bit more about him:

Between a law practice, family, handling constituent issues in such a widespread district, as well as legislative business in Columbia, how do you work to keep all these things in balance?

Well, the honest answer is that right now I don’t have them in balance, as my wife and law partners will attest. The State Senate will absorb all your time if you let it, and so far I pretty much have. As an attorney it is my practice to read and study every single document that comes before me prior to taking any action, and I’ve carried this habit with me to the State Senate – reading and then asking questions about every bill that comes before me, whether in subcommittee, committee or on in the chamber. So that takes up pretty much all my time during the legislative session (January to June). And this past summer, while session was out, I spent on average about three nights a week giving talks, attending community events, etc. , and about three hours during the day handling constituent issues or working on initiatives important to my constituents (for example, the new ocean terminal being planned for Jasper County). My resolution for the New Year is to budget my time better so that I can spend more time with my family and practicing law.

What’s the biggest issue affecting your part of the state, and how can this be addressed (and/or how is it being addressed)?

The EFA funding formula for public education really hammers Beaufort County. Last year we paid $134 million in taxes that went into the EFA reallocation bucket and got nothing back – all of our tax dollars went elsewhere. No other county in the state received zero in EFA funds. The EFA funding formula is broken, primarily because other areas of the state have "gamed" the system to take their industrial property tax base off their assessment roles and out of the fund reallocation formula. Problem is, the money the state allocates for public education is fixed, which means that for every EFA dollar our county is able to get, some other area (or combination of areas) in the state will get one dollar less. So legislators from areas who benefit from the current formula dig their heels in, regardless of the inequity. As state senator for Beaufort County, it is my job to get this thing fixed, and I need to advance every single possible legal argument and to make every single policy argument and to develop every single alliance with other legislators that I can. Other counties are also shafted by the EFA formula (though not as much as Beaufort County is). If I can get legislators from those other counties – Charleston and Horry, for example – to realize that this unfair formula shortchanges their constituents millions of dollars, perhaps a change can be leveraged. I know I can do it alone; I need allies.

You crossed over from an executive role in state government to a legislative role. What are some of the biggest differences, and how have you dealt with those changes?

In the executive branch, you’re always being forced to make quick decisions and you almost always in a “reactive” mode; problems arise that have to be dealt with immediately. In the legislative branch, there is the opportunity to think more strategically and proactively; the work is more methodical, incremental, collaborative and deliberative. Or to put the difference another way, in the executive branch the work comes to you – you are forced to deal with incoming – and in the legislative branch you “choose” what to spend your time on – education or Medicaid or tort reform, etc. – based on your assessment of what is in the public’s best interest.

What’s an issue or two that you plan to be heavily involved in next year’s session?

Well, first would be the EFA funding formula. But a very close second would be reforming how we tax as a state. Our tax code has 112 sales tax loopholes. There is no rhyme or reason to these tax breaks; they range from portable toilet rentals to time shares, newspapers to direct mail postage, amusement park machinery to manufactured housing. It makes no sense to have a tax system that encourages private parties to fight over obtaining public favors. When it becomes profitable for them to put time and money into lobbying politicians for favors, then that is precisely what they will do. The bottom line is that no South Carolinian should get special treatment at the expense of another and all special sales tax breaks to expire by a certain date unless a new law is passed to keep them. Some exemptions, such as the one on grocery sales, make sense and are broad-based. But since the 112 special tax breaks represent about $2.5 billion annually, closing even a fraction of them would result in a huge revenue increase. That new revenue should then be used to lower the state sales tax and the state income tax across the board so that everyone pays lower taxes, not just the politically connected. Lower taxes for everyone promotes free market entrepreneurship and discovery – the true sources of prosperity. That new revenue should under no circumstance, however, be used to increase state spending. Yes, there have been substantial budget cuts in the past two years, but state government spending grew by 41 percent in the four years prior. State government has enough money to discharge core functions if it is forced – as private households are – to spend wisely.

I also need to make sure the new ocean terminal being planned for Jasper County stays on track. Geographically, the Jasper County site has everything working in its favor. It is much closer to the ocean than Savannah’s terminal. It is also close to an excellent system of interstate highways and it is accessible by rail. And it is a surrounded by thousands of undeveloped acres that could easily support maritime and commercially related infrastructure. Moreover, South Carolina and Georgia have recognized that each has the power to stop the other’s independent development of the terminal – the South Carolina legislature even made a cooperative effort part of state law. And working together the two states have made impressive strides. Lawsuits have been dismissed, title to the port site has been conveyed by Georgia to a bi-state partnership and engineering for the terminal is underway. But there are a few legislators in South Carolina who now want to undo that state policy, believing that building a new port in Jasper County is a zero-sum game – that gains there do mean losses for the port in Charleston. That is wrong and short sighted: market studies show that over the next 15 to 20 years, shippers will need our region to annually handle millions of TEUs (“twenty-foot equivalency units,” or shipping boxes) that the ports in Charleston and Savannah are not large enough to handle. A new port in Jasper County could meet this surplus demand. If South Carolina and Georgia continue to work together, our region will become the most powerful shipping entry point on the East coast. And if we fail to build the new port, of course, the projected unmet demand, and the economic benefits of meeting it, will go elsewhere (most likely to the port in Norfolk).

Tell our readers about an interesting, but often-overlooked, place - or two - in your district that is well worth their time to visit.

Daufuskie Island is incredible. You can only get there by boat, so that’s why it’s often overlooked. On the boat ride over you see dolphins everywhere; it’s truly amazing. There are very few cars or paved roads on the island, and being there is like stepping back in time. And since there are only about 430 permanent residents, everybody knows everyone. If you’re ever in the Lowcountry, definitely make the time for a visit.

Merry Christmas from the Blogland

As Christmas approaches, we take you to Ontario, for the first part of the Great Compline of the Nativity, one of the kinds of services you'll see at my parish as we celebrate Christmas.

Our readers are welcome to join yours truly for Christmas services, which will be held on Christmas Eve at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church on America Street in downtown Charleston, one block north of Columbus Street:

  • Royal Hours of the Nativity, 10 am-noon
  • Vesperal Liturgy of the Nativity, 2-5 pm
    Divine Liturgy of the Nativity, 6-8 pm

If you catch me there, I'll even buy you lunch or dinner afterwards (current parishoners not eligible for this offer) for a Christmas present. How's that for a deal?

As the next few days will be rather busy, this will likely be the last Blogland posting before Christmas Day. We in the Blogland wish all our readers (with great politically-incorrect intents) a very safe, happy and joyous Christmas.

To save the Earth, the animals must die

Nothing is funnier than watching left-wing groups turn their guns on each other. In this story, we find environmentalists suggesting animals - specifically cats and dogs - are the threat:

Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.

The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.

Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.

To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.

"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.

Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.

So if animals are the problem ... then what's the solution?

I never knew a freeway project was such big news

Today's write-up in the Charleston Post and Courier about my company's I-26 project, which featured yours truly, ended up making six daily papers around the state: Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, and Spartanburg.

The project, planned for completion in April 2011, is ahead of schedule, he said. However, Capps declined to say when the work would be finished. "It's our intention to beat that completion date," he said.

The $11.6 million redesigned Remount Road interchange that is part of the project was recently completed in 126 days, which beat the contract for that work by 24 days. The new interchange is the "first major milestone" for the project, he said. The interchange has reopened except for a newly designed part that will connect along I-26 west from Remount Road to Aviation Avenue.

"Remount Road is going to be much better," Capps said. The interchange has taken on even more importance as a vital artery to the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston, which is expected to employ at least 3,800 people

Although the I-26 work is ahead of schedule, worker safety continues to be an issue, and Capps said the public can help with that problem. So far, seven work vehicles have been hit and one employee struck but not seriously injured, he said.

When the work gears back up in early January, Capps urged drivers to follow the posted, reduced speed limits in the work zones. "Every person driving through this project is part of our safety team," he said.

One of the nicest things about my work doing community and media relations for my company is that our major projects are consistently finished ahead of schedule. There's no need to BS or spin good news.

But I always figured that in order to become statewide news, I'd have to do something far more heinous.

The CofC guest speaker series continues this spring

One of the best benefits of being a major-league political blogger is the extensive range of contacts that it's allowed me to make. I've used these friendships to help add value to the clases I teach at the College of Charleston by getting three or four speakers for each class. Thus far, the line-up has been impressive, including business executives, lawyers, judges, teachers, legislators and other elected VIPs - up to the Speaker of the House and statewide elected officials.

I'm lining up guest speakers for the spring, and thus far, I'm getting a strong response. If you have a fairly advanced career, and would like to discuss public or managerial communication and your career, I may have room for YOU to come speak to one of my classes.

The rules are simple: 1) plan to talk for 15-20 minutes, mostly about what you do and relate it to the class - usually public speaking or organizational communication, 2) take some questions, and best of all, 3) discussions are generally not reported on the Blogland.

If you're interested,
drop me an email and let's see if we can get you down to the College of Charleston.

Just as long as you don't end up like this guy:

We've got the Laws That Kill

Ok, we know that title is a cheesy take of the classic Motley Crue song, but even more importantly, it's something which can best describe the ticking time bomb which is the state's Underground Utilities Damage Prevention Act.

Written in 1978, this law hasn't been touched since. The potentially-deadly inadequancies which are permitted by this law are ones that have been addressed in a number of states, often after people were killed.

Yes, people get killed by the kinds of loopholes that exist in these laws here in South Carolina. Efforts to amend those laws have been in the works for years, but other groups have convinced legislators there's just no point in protecting the people of South Carolina.

The first deadly fallacy in state law is the "Call before you dig" line that is promoted around the state. While the law does require you to give notice, calling "811" does not guarantee that those with underground utilities near your home or business will be notified.

The truth is that state law does not require utilities to be members of the One Call center. Most are, but on some projects, I've found more than one utility was not.

The second deadly fallacy is that calling 811 require any utility to actually mark where their buried electric, water, sewer, telephone, cable or natural gas lines are located. Just ask any contractor whose work is put on hold while waiting for the utility locators to show up - and sometimes never show up at all.

The truth is that contractors and individuals wishing to dig are required to give notice and wait three business days. What is known as "positive response", where all calls must receive either an on-site visit or "all clear" notification (and is law in most states), is not here.

The third deadly fallacy is that there is any sort of requirement for accuracy or accountability for when the lines aren't where you're told they are. Like a natural gas line that was breached across from the Wal-Mart in Summerville. One spark would have lit the line up, which was thirty feet away from where it was supposed to be, as well as a lot of people nearby.

The truth is that there are no standards for marking facilities, no training requirements for those who locate them, and no enforcement powers by which those who are found to be responsible can be held accountable.

South Carolina politicos have three options before them - amend the state law now, amend the state law after a disaster, or allow the federal government, via the 2006 PIPES Act to establish jurisdiction over South Carolina regarding this issue.

Thus far, representatives from several utility companies - including out-of-state companies - have regularly acted to block reform efforts. One reform effort, sponsored by Reps Cato and Sandifer, made it to the Senate where it was blocked with intense lobbying by an electric cooperative.

A number of legislators have listened to requests to help on this important issue which can, even if you don't realize it, impact the lives of many South Carolinians. Watch for legislation to be sponsored to close these loopholes and bring South Carolina up to generally-accepted national standards.

Alice Cooper faces uphill political battle

While the Blogland would vote for Alice Cooper, it doesn't seem likely that he'd run for office. However, when pollsters have a slow news day, we guess this is the kind of question they'll ask voters:

Shock-rocker Alice Cooper is viewed favorably by 20% of Americans and unfavorably by 26%. His ratings are roughly the same between Republicans and Democrats. However, when Cooper is identified as a Republican, his numbers shift to 27% favorable and 45% unfavorable. GOP voters are evenly split between favorable and unfavorable views. Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats offer an unfavorable opinion of the Republican rock star, while only 22% retain a favorable opinion of him.

If he decides to stop partying and get off the rock circuit, we suspect he'll have an uphill battle, even in a red state or district.

CU-ICAR to graduate first PhD in Automotive Engineering this week

Nearly twenty years ago, when BMW made its committment to South Carolina, some visionaries predicted it would be just the first of many changes that the automotive industry would make in the Upstate.

On Thursday, another milestone in that transformative process will be reached when
John Limroth receives the first-ever PhD in Automotive Engineering from Clemson's ICAR program, based in Greenville:

John Limroth of Austin, Texas, will graduate Dec. 17 with Clemson University’s first automotive-engineering Ph.D.

Clemson launched its automotive-engineering program in 2006 at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) campus. Until fall 2009 it was the only automotive-engineering Ph.D. program in the United States listed in Peterson’s, a well-known guide to colleges and universities. The Clemson automotive-engineering program graduated nine master’s degree students in 2009. Limroth is the first to graduate with a Ph.D.

“We are very proud of John Limroth and this milestone for our automotive-engineering program,” said Tom Kurfess, Limroth’s adviser and professor and BMW Chair of Manufacturing in the mechanical engineering department at Clemson. “Our program is interdisciplinary and our students are from a wide variety of engineering and science backgrounds. They live, eat, sleep and breathe automotive engineering. We are a highly focused group that addresses systems engineering with a specific focus on the automobile. All of our courses use the automobile as our educational platform.”

Mr. Limroth has already begun work for Michelin. While he is one of the first ICAR graduates to go to work a South Carolina-based company, he won't be the last. The ability of ICAR to produce executive-track employees presents the long-term potential to make the Palmetto State even more attractive to the automotive industry.

This news should also give Clemson fans a little something to be proud of. In the wake of their recent thrashing by the Gamecocks, they could probably use some good news right about now.

Back in 2007, we talked about the importance of this program, and are pleased to see it bearing its first fruit. Dr. Limroth has our heart-felt congratulations for his accomplishment, and our appreciation for his part in helping South Carolina take another step forward in its efforts to be a competitive player in the global economy of the 21st Century.

But before his leaps into his new job, we hope he gets a couple of weeks off to enjoy some family time with his wife and kids - they've earned it.

Looking at Senate pre-filed legislation

Last week, pre-filing for the Senate saw over 100 bills get filed. To help our readers get a sense of what is what, the Blogland went through the list of pre-filed bills and picked out some of what we saw as more noteworthy pieces of legislation.

Here’s some of what caught our eyes:

  • The “Mark Sanford Act” – S 901 by McConnell. This would define when the Lt. Governor could assume the powers of Governor in an emergency or in the absence of the Governor.

  • S 904, by McConnell, would prohibit those who receive probation after committing violent offenses from getting probation for future offenses.

  • S 911, by Land, would add killing an emergency service provider to the list of aggravated circumstances eligible for the death penalty.

  • S 933, by Courson and Knotts, would make Veteran’s Day a school holiday.

  • S 934, by Reese and S 981, by Rose, would give grandparents visitation rights with their grandchildren.

  • S 949, by Verdin, would increase penalties for dumping trash on public and private property.

  • S 969, by Bryant, would keep courts from terminating restraining orders early without receiving the consent of the person who sought the order.

  • S 977, by Lourie, would require someone involved in four collisions in a 24 month period to undergo a driver’s examination.

  • S 982, by Rose, would require annexations to be consistent with local comprehensive land use plans. This would help deter developers who annex to avoid county zoning ordinances.

  • S 995, by Rose, would give voters the right to recall elected officials, and S 1002, also by Rose, would give voters the right to enact laws via intiative petitions.

  • S 1009, by Rose, would require nursing homes to notify coroners of deaths.

  • S 1013, by Rose, would allow coroners to attend classes at the state Criminal Justice Academy.
    We encourage our readers to go and see what else got pre-filed.

    Here comes the Beaufort bride

    It seems that two former legislators are getting married this weekend: a former Representative from Charleston County and a former Senator from Beaufort County.

    We won’t name names, because we don’t want to make anyone else mad at us, but we suspect our readers, being smart and informed folks, will figure out who we’re talking about.

    What we can tell you is this: you should never believe rumors. Never ever believe rumors about what people might be doing.

    At least not until evidence confirms what you may have heard.

    We’re sure it was an oversight that we, like most (if not all) of our readers, weren’t invited, but we won’t let that cause us to be rude. That’s why, in the best Southern tradition, we’re asking our readers to put forth some great gift ideas for the newlyweds.

    And if you know who we’re talking about, please join us in wishing them the very best.

    UPDATE: The Beaufort County Island Packet reported that Wallace Scarborough and Catherine Ceips got married at her place.

    Grady Patterson: A magnificent example of the greatest generation

    On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, one of the veterans of that war, former State Treasurer Grady Patterson left this earth today.

    As a father, veteran of World War Two and the Korean conflict, as well as serving in statewide office for over three decades, Patterson not only answered the call to duty in his younger years, he made service to his family, his state, and his nation the central mission of his life. In this, Patterson, part of what has been coined "the Greatest Generation" of American history, is one of the truly greatest individuals to come from that honored generation.

    While the Blogland didn't have much about him that we agreed with, there is much about him that is worth honoring, and much that will be missed with his passing.

    "They don't make them that way anymore" is a saying we hear very often, but in his case, it's a truth worth pondering, and a challenge to future generations of South Carolinians. It is certainly something which applies to the likes of Patterson.

    For his lifelong legacy of public service, as well as setting a standard that we should all aspire to, Grady Patterson and his family have our prayers and our gratitude. We in the Blogland hope our readers will join us.

    May his memory be eternal.

    There's Gotta Be A Redneck Joke In This

    Earlier this evening, the Blogland accepted the hospitality of Rep. Phillip Lowe, the Florence GOP's McLaughlin sisters (... and Dana too!) and other upstanding figures in Florence politics at Lowe's "Redneck Christmas Party". Off all the many GOP events attended around the state, this event was undoubtedly the most enjoyable and creative one we've been to in years.

    The place was packed with assorted rednecks ... including a redneck professor who reportedly was proud of his mail order degrees, for which he paid top dollar.

    Reputed Pee Dee blogger Mike Reino was not at the event. Something tells us someone meant to make sure he didn't get there.

    As the photos indicate, no amount of effort or expense was spared in hosting a high-class event:

    We're not sure if Social Services was called in to investigate this one:

    More photos can be found via my Facebook photo album page.

    Connor's making mountains out of websites

    This week, the Connor for Lt. Governor campaign is doing what every campaign does - seeking opportunities to generate earned media publicity for their campaign.

    But sometimes, one can go a little too far, as evidenced by their efforts to allege an
    Al-Queda hit job on their website, which was recently defaced:

    I hate to tell them, but amatuer pranksters and hacker groups carry out mass website defacements all the time. Sometimes it's politics, sometimes ethnic pride, and sometimes just a way to show the level of their talents, since public websites can be viewed, thus allowing them to show the "score".

    As the IT and website admin for my company, I know this all too well. Several months ago, they trashed my company’s corporate website – A few days later, it was back online and our host ended up moving to a more secure server.

    If you want to read more, Zone-H is a major defacement archive website.

    Cotton Boll Conspiracy hits it right on the head, citing

    a computer expert contacted by The Associated Press who studied the site says the alterations are similar to those made about 4,500 times elsewhere on the Web.

    Ray Dickenson of the technology security firm Authentium also says the alterations do not appear to have any political content in them.

    My advice, quit making mountains out of websites (mole hills), and take your web hosting service to task over their server security.

    Judicial candidate interview: Maite Murphy

    Once our legislators are back in session, they'll be asked to fill a number of judicial appointments. To help better inform those politicos who read this blog, as well as shine a little light on this process for the general public, we've invited those who are seeking contested seats to introduce themselves to our readers.

    While some candidates responded to our email inviting them to do Blogland interviews, the majority don't respond. However, the level of responses are growing, which we see as a part of a growing willingness by our state's judiciary to open up to the general public - which we believe is a good thing.

    In addition to interviews, we'll be talking about issues related to various judicial candidacies and making endorsements of some of the judicial candidates who we believe stand above what is generally a pretty good group of candidates. We invite you to stay tuned for our continued focus on these judicial races.

    Our first interviewee is Maite Murphy, a Dorchester County magistrate, Summerville attorney, and former 1st Circuit prosecutor. She's also the only female candidate to make it out of screening for this round of judicial elections.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself:

    I am married to Chris Murphy who is a Citadel graduate and serves on Dorchester County Council and we have two sons. I was admitted to practice law in 1995 and I began my career in Columbia with the law firm of Holler, Dennis, Corbett & Garner where I practiced general litigation.

    In 1998 I began working at the First Circuit Solicitors office under a special grant to prosecute violent crimes against women. I was assigned to prosecute the violent crimes against women and children in the office and rose to the rank of Chief Deputy Solicitor for the First Judicial Circuit, which includes Calhoun, Dorchester and Orangeburg Counties. In 2005, I joined the law firm of Quattlebaum & Murphy (which later became the Murphy Law Firm-ed.). I handle all aspects of criminal and civil trial practice. The practice of law is an honorable profession that helps people through very difficult times and it has been very rewarding both personally and professionally.

    Why are you seeking this judicial seat?

    I want to become a Circuit Court Judge because I know I can have a positive impact on our legal system in that capacity. The experience I have gained through extensive trial work has placed me in a unique position that has allowed me to learn not only from other lawyers, but from judges, juries and victims of crimes or other life circumstances. It is extremely important that every person that walks into a courtroom, regardless of the outcome of the case, should feel that the court was diligent, efficient and fair. I know I can bring those qualities to the bench.

    What are some important things that you have to offer as a judge?

    One of the strong points that I would bring to the office is trial experience. The Circuit Court is a trial level Court and having that trial experience is a strong component of being a good trial court judge. In addition, I was appointed as Special Referee in 2005 of the ExxonMobil class action suit which was filed in Orangeburg County. Also, my current service as the Associate Chief Magistrate for Dorchester County has given me important insight on the judiciary and how it can impact the lives of our citizens.

    What are some important qualities the public should expect in a judicial candidate?

    A judge should at all times be fair, diligent, and knowledgeable while maintaining respect to both the litigants and to the honor of the profession.

    Tell us about some issues that concern you regarding our state's judicial system.

    The issues that concern me the most about our State’s courts deal with the fact that there is a tremendous backlog of cases to be disposed of and heard. This gives parties an impression that if they are to receive justice and be part of the system, it is going to take a long time to get there. That holds true in both civil and criminal matters. There have been other very serious consequences of the back logs by having people commit serious crimes while out on bond for extensive periods of time before their cases are called to trial. This of course, is not just a problem for the judiciary, but for the staffs of the Solicitors and Public Defenders whose resources are limited by budgetary constraints.

    What other things do you do outside the practice of law?

    I am a huge sports fan (especially of my two boys’ teams), an avid snow skier, scuba diver and love to run with my three dogs who are very enthusiastic motivators in the mornings!