COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was joined by a bipartisan group of 18 sheriffs and 10 solicitors Monday morning calling for judicial reform in the state.
“The judiciary affects everyone’s everyday life, particularly when it comes to public safety. It doesn’t matter what your religion is, your race, your political ideology–everyone wants to feel safe,” Wilson said. “Giving the executive branch involvement and input in how we select our judges will help bring accountability, transparency, and confidence to our criminal justice system.”
Right now in South Carolina, judges are selected through the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) and voted on by the General Assembly.
Wilson and the bipartisan law enforcement coalition are advocating for reforming the JMSC and giving the executive branch meaningful representation in that process.
“We need immediate judicial reform in South Carolina,” First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said. “I’ve heard great ideas from every corner of the state about judicial reform, and they are all better ideas, in my opinion, than what we have now.”
Pascoe suggested keeping lawyer-legislators off the JMSC. Pascoe said these changes could be put in place with legislation.
Any major overhaul to the judicial selection could take years to implement, since it would require changes to state’s constitution.
Law enforcement said any reform will help make the state safer.
“As law enforcement officers, we deal with victims everyday,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “Prosecutors and judges see them too. It’s our priority to keep them safe.”
4th Circuit Solicitor Will Rogers, 12th Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements, and 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, Florence County Sheriff TJ Joye, and Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson were among those in attendance.
During one-on-one interview with WSPA last month, Gov. Henry McMaster voiced his support for judicial reform.