The South Carolina Bar's  Judicial Independence and Impartiality Committee was created to provide appropriate and timely responses to criticism of judges and courts.

Judicial Independence and Impartiality

The concept of judicial independence is central to the rule of law and to the checks and balances it supports in our constitutional democracy. 

The preamble to the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 501 states: 

Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us. The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. Intrinsic to all sections of this Code are the precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. The judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.

Why is judicial independence important?

Independent courts protect our freedoms, which are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The written rights would mean little without independent and impartial courts to protect them. 

An independent judiciary—the third and co-equal branch of government—acts fairly, is grounded in the rule of law and free from outside control or influence. 

Courts and judges are accountable to the Constitution and laws—not ideologies, special interests or individuals.  This framework, developed by our nation’s founders, guarantees that independent courts and judges remain faithful to the rule of law.

What are the consequences of attacks on judges and an independent judiciary? 

When criticism of judges’ rulings crosses the line into personal attacks or intimidation, public respect for our justice system is undermined. This creates a threat to justice, the rule of law, our constitutional democracy, and freedom in general. 

The SC Bar’s role

The South Carolina Bar, which serves more than 17,000 members and the public, is dedicated to advancing the legal profession in our state. The Bar’s mission includes promoting high quality legal education and continually improving the administration of justice throughout the Palmetto State.

The SC Bar’s Judicial Independence Committee, established by the Board of Governors,  promotes the importance of an independent judiciary by:

  • Responding to unjust criticism when rules of conduct prevent individual judges from making public statements;
  • Addressing inaccuracies and misinformation reporting criticism of judges and courts;
  • Serving as a resource for unbiased information concerning judicial activities and court process; and
  • Educating the public on the role of judges and lawyers in our democracy.

Committee Members

  • Beverly A. Carroll, chair
  • J. Hagood Tighe
  • Kenneth C. Anthony Jr. 
  • M. Dawes Cooke Jr. 
  • Roy F. Laney
  • Costa M. Pleicones
  • William K. Witherspoon

When and How Committee responds


Judicial Elections in South Carolina

Recent Responses/Publications


Beverly A. Carroll
(803) 366-3411