SC Family Court Judge Deemed Unqualified

SC Family Court Judge Deemed Unqualified

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ZAAA

United States

#1 Nov 25, 2009
Ethical question arises during divorce case
By Robert Behre
The Post and Courier
Sunday, November 22, 2009
In her 16 years as a family court judge, F.P. "Charlie" Segars-Andrews has presided over the state's first drug court aimed to get young offenders back on track.
She has quietly handled hundreds of divorce and custody cases and rarely has made news. The Mount Pleasant mother of two also has earned respect from many lawyers who have argued in her courtroom, and she serves as the vice chairwoman of the South Carolina Commission for Judicial Conduct.
Today, however, Segars-Andrews finds herself being judged, with her future on the bench hanging in the balance.
At issue is a complicated ethical question over whether she erred three years ago by not disqualifying herself from ruling in a Clarendon County divorce case.
Her detractors feel she made a serious misstep by ruling in that case even though one of its lawyers had shared in a significant settlement with her husband's law partner. They have persuaded the majority of the South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission to find her unqualified to remain on the bench next year.
Her supporters disagree, noting that the issue was taken to the S.C. Court of Appeals, which ruled that Segars-Andrews showed no evidence of bias in that divorce case and had a duty to rule in it. They are hoping the commission will reconsider its decision when it meets again next month.
The unusual case raises the question of how far a judge should go to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
It also shows how those unhappy with their outcomes in the legal system increasingly are choosing to take their complaints to the political arena.
A contested divorce
ZAAA

United States

#2 Nov 25, 2009
The divorce between William R. Simpson and Becky H. Simpson of Manning was like many others where significant property and child custody were at stake.
The wrinkle came near the end of the two-day hearing, as Segars-Andrews was preparing her final ruling on the division of property and attorney's fees.
William Simpson's lawyer, Steven McKenzie, asked her to recuse herself from the case. He said Becky Simpson's lawyer, James McLaren, had been involved in a lucrative case with the judge's husband's law firm, Andrews and Shull.
"I did not think about that," she told the attorneys, according to the transcript. "You all have to retry the case."
McLaren then told her the rules need to show she was biased or prejudiced, "and they have shown neither." He said she was unaware of the dealings he had with her husband's law partner when she tried the case.
But Segars-Andrews didn't appear to buy his argument, saying, "It still should have been disclosed, and I can't, at this point remedy that."
She then told lawyers that she would be glad to look at any paperwork they wanted to give her regarding a potential conflict, and once she looked that over, she changed her mind and ruled on the case, giving Becky Simpson 40 percent of the marital estate, about $214,000, plus $83,000 in attorney's fees.
William Simpson was displeased.
"She actually gave my ex-wife 60 percent of everything I owned, that I was able to make a living on to provide for my family," he said, adding that her refusal to step down from the case was disappointing. "I have no faith in the judicial system as it goes right now."
The fallout
William Simpson and McKenzie appealed the settlement and Segars-Andrews' decision to remain on the case to the S.C. Court of Appeals, but they lost on both counts -- in unanimous rulings -- in February 2008.
"We find Judge Segars-Andrews' remarks about her concern for not disclosing the information at the beginning of the hearing do not show any bias or prejudice but instead show her sensitivity to any apprehension each side might have in her ability to make a fair and impartial ruling in the case," the court ruled.
"My client just ran out of money. He couldn't have gone to the Supreme Court," McKenzie said of Simpson. "He's just a farmer."
Instead, he waited until Segars-Andrews would be evaluated for reappointment by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, a 10-member group of state lawmakers and others who decide if a person is qualified to be a judge.
In South Carolina, state lawmakers elect judges, but since 1996, candidates for the bench first have to be found qualified by the commission.
The commission listened to William Simpson, McKenzie and others on the matter for hours. They weighed whether Segars-Andrews' alleged conflict of interest affected her judgment and whether she lived up to the state code of judicial conduct that states: "A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities."
In the end, the commission voted, 9-1, to find Segars-Andrews unqualified.
The vote was remarkable, not only because she is a respected judge with 16 years of experience, but because when most candidates learn that the commission is inclined to vote against them, they opt to withdraw quietly.
The next step
Segars-Andrews, who is up for appointment to a six-year term next year, declined comment for this story, but in her Nov. 9 letter to the commission, she acknowledged her mistake and said all she can do now is offer William Simpson an apology.
"If I had understood then what I understand now, I would have recused myself, even though I'm not legally required to do so,"
ZAAA

United States

#3 Nov 25, 2009
Ethical question arises during divorce case
By Robert Behre
The Post and Courier
Sunday, November 22, 2009

In her 16 years as a family court judge, F.P. "Charlie" Segars-Andrews has presided over the state's first drug court aimed to get young offenders back on track.

She has quietly handled hundreds of divorce and custody cases and rarely has made news. The Mount Pleasant mother of two also has earned respect from many lawyers who have argued in her courtroom, and she serves as the vice chairwoman of the South Carolina Commission for Judicial Conduct.

Today, however, Segars-Andrews finds herself being judged, with her future on the bench hanging in the balance.

At issue is a complicated ethical question over whether she erred three years ago by not disqualifying herself from ruling in a Clarendon County divorce case.

Her detractors feel she made a serious misstep by ruling in that case even though one of its lawyers had shared in a significant settlement with her husband's law partner. They have persuaded the majority of the South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission to find her unqualified to remain on the bench next year.

Her supporters disagree, noting that the issue was taken to the S.C. Court of Appeals, which ruled that Segars-Andrews showed no evidence of bias in that divorce case and had a duty to rule in it. They are hoping the commission will reconsider its decision when it meets again next month.

The unusual case raises the question of how far a judge should go to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
ZAAA1

United States

#4 Nov 25, 2009
"The vote was remarkable, not only because she is a respected judge with 16 years of experience, but because when most candidates learn that the commission is inclined to vote against them, they opt to withdraw quietly."

"Meanwhile, many lawyers with the Charleston County BAR have been working to show their support for her. The South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers also unanimously passed a resolution in support, and its president-elect, Robert Rosen, called her "one of the best judges in the state and one of the most highly respected."
ZAAA11

United States

#5 Nov 25, 2009
The commission listened to William Simpson, McKenzie and others on the matter for hours. They weighed whether Segars-Andrews' alleged conflict of interest affected her judgment and whether she lived up to the state code of judicial conduct that states: "A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities."

IN THE END, the commission voted, 9-1, to find Segars-Andrews unqualified.
Judicial Watch Member

United States

#6 Nov 27, 2009
ZAAA11 wrote:
The commission listened to William Simpson, McKenzie and others on the matter for hours. They weighed whether Segars-Andrews' alleged conflict of interest affected her judgment and whether she lived up to the state code of judicial conduct that states: "A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities."
IN THE END, the commission voted, 9-1, to find Segars-Andrews unqualified.
Certain judges and lawyers wear a mask of sanity that covers their true selves. They are like a Dr. Jekyl Mr. Hyde. Is this judge one of them? A committee found her unqualified to sit on the bench. So "Your Honor" has demonstrated "dishonor", according to the deep investigation and findings.

I see no reason to be considering this judge again. But corrupt good old boy SC politics will play a role and have this committee change it's mind.

How is good old boy Tommy Ravenel doing these days? Sure haven't heard anything more about that investigation of all those drug head friends of his. I gues SLED tipped them off to.
Justice

United States

#7 Dec 2, 2009
Family Court Judge F.P.“Charlie” Segars-Andrews, who has faced criticism for an ethical breach in her handling of a Clarendon County divorce case, apparently will leave the bench after her current term expires next year.

The state’s Judicial Merit Selection Review Commission decided Wednesday not to change its Nov. 5 decision that found her unqualified to serve.

The commission’s finding essentially means that state lawmakers won’t be able to consider reappointing her to a fresh six-year term next year.

In 2006, Segars-Andrews declined to disqualify herself from a divorce case even after she learned that the lawyer for the ex-wife, Becky Simpson, had shared in a large sum with a lawyer who worked in the same firm as Segars-Andrews’ husband.
Itsaboutx

Huntersville, NC

#8 Dec 2, 2009
This is good news. Good for McConnell for standing up for what is right and just. He and his committee have taken a big step in the right direction. Though it may not be the popular decision now, the truth will be made known to the public.
truthteller

Mount Pleasant, SC

#9 Dec 3, 2009
Charleston county already feels much cleaner today. Thank goodness for people like Glenn McConnell who do not put up with shenanigans in Family Court. This was way overdue...
ChristianCrackWh ore

Charleston, SC

#10 Dec 3, 2009
Hate to tell ya, Glenn did not stand up today. He just saw which way the wind was blowing. If the wind were coming from another direction, he'd hoist his sails.
Matt Andrews

Columbia, SC

#11 Dec 3, 2009
This is my mother. A woman of upstanding in the community. She has been a judge for 16 years. She is being taken off the bench because of a ruling on one case. One case out of 1000 she has resided over. A case she ruled 60 % to 40% in favor of Mr. Simpson! If the Judicial Merit Selection Committee, which is not even made of of judges and contains some members without even a law degree, knew more of family law, they would know that 60% is the most you will almost ever be rewarded in a divorce case.It is quite clear there is more going on behind the scenes than the public knows.
To call a woman corrupt who has had as large an impact on the community as my mother has is ridiculous. I am not going to preach about her, and I am not writing as a pissed off son. Rather as a member of a community which is a little less bright without a judge as passionate as Judge Segars-Andrews. Read her petition page to see how much good she as truly does for this state. Then decide wether it is my mother or the committee, headed by McConnell, who is truly corrupt
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/judgeandrews

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ChristianCrackWh ore

Charleston, SC

#12 Dec 3, 2009
BUNK....
Even without 'lawyers' on a panel, she got caught with her hand (metaphorically) in the cookie jar this time. But perhaps where there is smoke, there's fire.
It is the appearance of impartiality and unbiased decision making that keeps the judicary's decisions acceptable to the general public. Most people can accept losing IF they believe they have had a fair hearing. When the general public believes that it cannot get an unbiased impartial hearing it is time the judge is removed, it becomes the beginning of chaos. She had to go because her reputation for unbias decision-making was lost, by her own deeds.
Peanut

Ladson, SC

#13 Dec 3, 2009
Itsaboutx wrote:
Though it may not be the popular decision now ...
Everything you wrote is true except the above, about which I can set you at ease: the commission's decision is extremely popular among people knowledgeable of the situation. The only ones who don't like it are either related to a guilty party or "in on" the shenanigans.
truthteller

Mount Pleasant, SC

#14 Dec 3, 2009
I wonder whatever happened to the grievances filed against her and her pals that were never investigated when she was the vice chair of the Grievance committee?
Peanut

Ladson, SC

#15 Dec 3, 2009
She is not being taken off the bench for this one case. If the commission had voted for another hearing, far worse transgressions of hers than a refusal to recuse, with which the commission was knowledgeable before yesterday's vote, would have been made public. This has been going on for years and to be fair, she is only part of the network of corruption, the judicial part.
truthteller

Mount Pleasant, SC

#16 Dec 3, 2009
Peanut, I know first hand of several cases where there were transgressions. I imagine that Glenn McConnell wanted to avoid a public display of those cases. That would be quite an embarassment for our local judicial system. This was well handled in a relatively quiet way on his part.
Politics

United States

#17 Dec 3, 2009
I have done research on Segars-Andrews. I have come across so many reasons for her NOT to be on bench.

Her Orders and the transcripts from hearings before her don't even match. The SC Court of Appeals has REVERSED her ruling on SIMPLE facts of law. Robert Rosen has her in his pocket and seems have almost ALL OF his cases heard before her. She has held hearings with out the litigant(s) in the courtroom while the litigant sits in the courts waiting room!!! MY GOODNESS! What is going on in this mess at the courthouse?
Politics

United States

#18 Dec 3, 2009
NOW SHE GETS A 3rd (THIRD) CHANCE?? WTF IS UP WITH THAT? Is there some THREE STRIKES YOU'RE OUT LAW ON JUDGES????

"The panel found her unqualified on a 9-1 vote Nov. 5 and voted 7-3 Wednesday to stick with the decision. A final vote is next month." <<< From WCSC - TV-5

Something is wrong here. Something is very WRONG when you allow 3 hearings like this. What is is ..... more chances to manipulate the committee? You bet it is!

Segars-Andrews is not a honest person. She is a psychopath!
Politics

United States

#19 Dec 3, 2009
Matt Andrews wrote:
This is my mother. A woman of upstanding in the community. She has been a judge for 16 years. She is being taken off the bench because of a ruling on one case. One case out of 1000 she has resided over. A case she ruled 60 % to 40% in favor of Mr. Simpson! If the Judicial Merit Selection Committee, which is not even made of of judges and contains some members without even a law degree, knew more of family law, they would know that 60% is the most you will almost ever be rewarded in a divorce case.It is quite clear there is more going on behind the scenes than the public knows.
To call a woman corrupt who has had as large an impact on the community as my mother has is ridiculous. I am not going to preach about her, and I am not writing as a pissed off son. Rather as a member of a community which is a little less bright without a judge as passionate as Judge Segars-Andrews. Read her petition page to see how much good she as truly does for this state. Then decide wether it is my mother or the committee, headed by McConnell, who is truly corrupt
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/judgeandrews
Sorry Son .. but your mom has you duped.
Politics

United States

#20 Dec 3, 2009
Justice wrote:
Family Court Judge F.P.“Charlie” Segars-Andrews, who has faced criticism for an ethical breach in her handling of a Clarendon County divorce case, apparently will leave the bench after her current term expires next year.
The state’s Judicial Merit Selection Review Commission decided Wednesday not to change its Nov. 5 decision that found her unqualified to serve.
The commission’s finding essentially means that state lawmakers won’t be able to consider reappointing her to a fresh six-year term next year.
Lawyers for Segars-Andrews are still working to twist this thing around. The corruption is shocking >>>>>

The panel found her unqualified on a 9-1 vote Nov. 5 and voted 7-3 Wednesday to stick with the decision. A final vote is next month.
In 2006, Segars-Andrews declined to disqualify herself from a divorce case even after she learned that the lawyer for the ex-wife, Becky Simpson, had shared in a large sum with a lawyer who worked in the same firm as Segars-Andrews’ husband.

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