Petition: We, the undersigned call on the South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission to qualify Judge Frances P. Segars-Andrews to continue to serve as a family court judge.
*Dec 3, 2009 - Please continue to show your support of Judge Andrews by signing and forwarding this petition. This is a very important issue at stake.
Judge F.P. Segars Andrews has been a family and juvenile court judge in South Carolina for over 16 years. She has a stellar reputation and judicial record as well as widespread respect in the legal community.
During what was supposed to be routine proceeding to recertify her as a judge, she was ambushed by a disgruntled litigant alleging that she had a conflict of interest in his divorce case that was heard three years ago. The litigant, William Simpson of Manning, subsequently appealed the case, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld Judge Andrews' ruling and found no evidence of bias. He also filed a complaint with the South Carolina Judicial Conduct Commission. This complaint was also reviewed and it was determined that she followed all ethical rules.
In the recent recertification process, Mr. Simpson raised the same allegations that he raised to the South Carolina Court of Appeals and the Judicial Conduct Commission. This was the only complaint filed against Judge Andrews in her recertification.
Why do we need Judge Andrews to continue serving?
For over 16 years, Judge Andrews has served our community with great integrity and has contributed of her time and energy far beyond the requirements of her position. Not only has she afforded litigants fair and impartial hearings in divorce cases, she has selflessly devoted herself to developing programs that are directed at protecting the welfare of children in our community. The following are various programs initiated by Judge Andrews or programs in which she has been intimately involved:
Juvenile Drug Court- Judge Andrews was the primary force in establishing JDC in Charleston County. The program requires young offenders and their parent or guardian to appear weekly before the judge to demonstrate that they have passed drug screenings, attended counseling sessions and have attended school with no disciplinary action taken. Once all the requirements of JDC have been satisfied, the children go through a formal graduation during which they are honored. The program has been enormously successful. Because of the success of JDC, MUSC has been awarded several federal grants to participate in helping the children who are involved in the program. Judge Andrews is currently the only judge participating in JDC. D. Ashley Pennington, 9th Circuit Public Defender, said of her work, "She (Judge Andrews) has pioneered the development of a Juvenile Drug Court that has singlehandedly made a difference in the lives of many, many young people in our community." Judge Andrews has received national and international recognition for her work in the program.
Attendance Accountability Court Judge Andrews worked with the Charleston County School District to create this program for truant students. The premise is similar to Juvenile Drug Court. The students and their parents/guardians must both attend counseling sessions and appear before the judge monthly to assure compliance. Failure to meet the standards results in community service or detention. This program has also been very successful. Judge Andrews is the only participating judge.
Second Chance Program - Judge Andrews worked with a priest from St. Andrews Church to start this program for fathers with addictions who are in jail because of non payment of child support. Volunteers provide life skills programs for the participants while they are incarcerated for 30 days. The offending fathers are then conditionally released under the following conditions: they must begin paying child support, they must attend weekly group sessions, they must contact their mentor weekly, they must submit to random drug screenings, and they must appear in court monthly to demonstrate compliance. Mt. Moriah and Seacoast churches now supervise this volunteer program at no taxpayer cost.
Changing Families Program - Judge Andrews worked with individuals from St. Andrews Church to develop a program that family court judges can use in divorce cases to teach parents how to minimize the negative effects on children of divorce. The program is now used by many judges and is being replicated in other counties.
Mediation Program for Abuse and Neglect Cases - Judge Andrews established this program based on a similar model in Horry County. Through her efforts, 30 trained family court mediators volunteered their time via this program which expedites abuse and neglect cases, saves the state time and money and frees up valuable court time. There are currently between 5 and 9 mediations each week, and the program is considered a phenomenal success. This intervention allows the early resolution of high conflict cases which reunify children with their parents.
Auxiliary Probation Officer Program - Due to the overwhelming work load of Charleston County Juvenile Probation officers, Judge Andrews worked with the department of Juvenile Justice to start this volunteer program in which qualified individuals were trained to supervise and mentor young offenders. Community leaders and successful professional were assigned cases that might have otherwise received minimal attention in the traditional probation system. The program was very successful for many years, but was eventually eliminated due to changes in funding requirements.
The two most important issues of this petition
One vocal and disgruntled individual should not have the power to wipe out an honorable and distinguished 16 year career on the bench.
Judge Andrews is a fair and compassionate judge who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of the young people who appear before her in court.
The Honorable William L. Howard Sr., retired South Carolina Court of Appeals Judge said, "Judge Segars-Andrews has had a distinguished career with a solid reputation as an honest, fair and impartial jurist, and it is now threatened by a single disgruntled litigant."
Patricia A. Kennedy, Chief Public Defender of Berkley County said, "It would be a disservice to the families of this community and to the judicial system itself if she were not allowed to serve on the family court bench."
There are hundreds of attorneys, judges and child health workers who all have made similar remarks. The committee to decide Judge Andrews' qualifications needs to hear from us, the citizens of the Lowcountry. Please support Judge F. P. Segars-Andrews to remain as a family court judge in the position she has held for the last 16 years.
If everything looks correct, click sign now. Your signature will not be added until you click the button below.