Chief Justice Recuses Self from Election Case

Chief Justice Recuses Self from Election Case 

Chief Justice Toal Will Recuse from Election Case

By Paul Gable

Grand Strand Daily and SC Hotline have joined forces to confirm that Chief Justice Jean Toal and Associate Justice Donald Beatty have recused themselves from the candidate filing case for the upcoming June 12th Republican and Democratic primaries.

The case is Michael Anderson and Robert Barber, Plaintiffs v. S.C. Election Commission, S.C. Republican Party, S.C. Democratic Party, et al.

Plaintiffs Anderson and Barber are seeking to stop the parties from certifying and the election commission from including on the June 12th primary ballot any candidate who did not strictly comply with state law by filing their Statement of Economic Interest form, with the S.C. Ethics Commission, at a different time from when their Statement of Intention of Candidacy was filed.

According to information from the Clerk of Court for the S.C. Supreme Court, Chief Justice Toal will be replaced on the bench by Justice G. Thomas Cooper, Jr. from the 5th Circuit Court while Justice Beatty will be replaced by former Supreme Court Associate Justice James Moore, who retired from the court in 2008.

Justice Costa M. Pleicones, the most senior Associate Justice, will preside over the Court in the case. Opening arguments in the case will be heard beginning at 10:30 a.m. May 1, 2012. No decision is expected to be handed down tomorrow.

We have also been informed that S.C. Ethics Commmission attorney Kathy Hazelwood will appear as a witness. Hazelwood will be bringing an exhibit from the electronic filing of Statement of Economic Interest forms, the forms at the center of the controversy.

According to information from a source familiar with the exhibit, Hazelwood will have spreadsheets that demonstrate every time a candidate has logged in to his or her account. Among other things, this exhibit will demonstrate who filed and exactly when as well as providing electronic proof for candidates who are claiming they logged into the system but were prevented from completing their SEI filing because of system problems.

The case could affect hundreds of candidates statewide for both state and local government seats.