Commission on Judicial Independence and Impartiality issues response
The Bar's Commission on Judicial Independence and Impartiality has issued the following response to the article "Kershaw sheriff slams 'bleeding heart' judge,” published July 14 in The State newspaper. The Commission responded out of concern that the original article on this matter lacked factual and balanced reporting, which it deems a disservice to the public and its understanding of the judicial system.
This letter is in response to the article of July 14 (“Kershaw sheriff slams 'bleeding heart' judge”) about a sentence given to a criminal defendant and prior actions by the same judge.
We support any person’s First Amendment right to express an opinion on a judicial ruling and the reporting of the same. Of concern is the lack of factual reporting in the original article: no evidence was provided to support the accusations beyond a summary arrest history, nor was any statement from the defense which may have provided context of the judge's ruling. Further, the use of the sheriff's "bleeding heart" description in your headline is furtherance of a one-sided attack to demonstrate public response and reflects possible bias in reporting. This, along with the use of "controversial," contribute nothing to suggest that the judge acted beyond the parameters of the law.
We would like to see more unbiased, factual reporting in the future that offers perspective on all the interests at issue. Doing so would promote a better understanding of our judicial system and provide a better service to your readers.
Commission on Judicial Independence and Impartiality
South Carolina Bar
The South Carolina Bar Commission on Judicial Independence and Impartiality was created to provide appropriate and timely responses to criticism of judges and courts.
The Commission is made up of five public members and three lawyer members. Its responsibilities are to:
(1) respond to unjust criticism when rules of conduct prevent response by the individuals subject to the criticism;
(2) address errors or inaccuracies in reporting criticism of judges and courts;
(3) serve as a resource for obtaining unbiased information concerning judicial activities and court process;
(4) encourage dissemination of information to the public about noteworthy achievements and improvements within the justice system; and
(5) seek a better understanding within communities of the legal system and the roles of judges and lawyers.