HomeLearning CenterJudge Jocelyn Newman withdraws from consideration for SC Supreme Court seat

Judge Jocelyn Newman withdraws from consideration for SC Supreme Court seat

Originally published by Maggie Brown for WISTV

Columbia native Judge Jocelyn Newman has withdrawn from consideration for the South Carolina Supreme Court seat opening up this year.

South Carolina’s Judicial Merit Selection Commission already recently narrowed its search to three candidates ― Judge Blake A. Hewitt, from Conway, Judge Leticia Verdin, from Greenville, and Newman.

Newman, daughter of Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman, went to public school in Columbia and attended college at both Duke University and the University of South Carolina.

Newman was the only Black candidate up for consideration at this point in the process. Both Hewitt and Verdin are white, which means the next Supreme Court will be made up of entirely white justices.

If Verdin is elected, she will be the only woman on the court, and if Hewitt is elected, the supreme court will be made up of entirely white men.

Chief Justice Beatty ― who has reached the South Carolina Supreme Court’s age limit ― is retiring this year. After his retirement, Justice John Kittredge will become chief and take Beatty’s place.

The commission, which selects Supreme Court justices, is made up of 10 people. Six of those members are elected representatives from the house and senate. Four of the members are not representatives. All eyes are on the decisions being made by the JMSC.

Read about the final candidates up for consideration below.

Blake A. Hewitt

According to the S.C. Judicial Branch’s website, Hewitt is currently serving as a judge on the court of appeals. He began his role as a judge in January 2020. Before being elected as a judge, he practiced law for 10 years and has experience in statewide general litigation.

Hewitt clerked for former justice Jean Toal on the South Carolina Supreme Court, according to his profile on the S.C. Judicial Branch’s website.

When asked what his position is on “judicial activism,” in 2018, he said:

“A judge’s role is to enforce the law as it has been written by the legislature ― not to make law of the judge’s own design. The role of a judge is a limited one. Judges must have the modest and humility to understand and embrace this principle.”

Hewitt graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of South Carolina School of Law.

He currently lives in Conway.

Letitia H. Verdin

Verdin graduated from Furman University in 1992 and received her law degree from the University of South Carolina.

After graduating law school, she was an assistant solicitor with the office of the 13th Circuit Solicitor, which covers Greenville and Pickens counties. After working there, she joined the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which represents Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry counties.

She headed the family court unit for juvenile prosecution in both circuits, according to her biography on the South Carolina Judicial Branch’s website.

In 2000, she joined a Greenville law firm and practiced law privately until 2005, when she returned to the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to prosecute cases of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence.

She was elected to the Family Court as a resident judge in 2008 and then in 2011 the South Carolina legislature elected her to the Circuit Court.

When answering questions from the JMSC for her judicial appointment, she included personal information about her life and experience.

“I have been faced with a number of very difficult decisions in these positions, but I have attempted to approach these matters with an open, and hopefully, fair mind … I have endeavored to deal with matters before me efficiently and justly. I also believe my legal experience, equally divided between civil and criminal law, has given me a broad base of knowledge,” she said.

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