Sumter judge expected to become next state Supreme Court justice

A Sumter resident and current local circuit court judge appears on his way to becoming the next member of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Third Circuit Court Judge George “Buck” James was expected to be one of two remaining candidates seeking the open position in the state’s highest court when the joint session of the state general assembly convenes Wednesday.

Now, however, reports by Columbia-based news site FITS News claim their sources are telling them fellow Circuit Court Judge Dianne Goodstein from Summerville informed state lawmakers Monday afternoon she was removing herself from consideration.  Earlier in the day, the same news site was reporting James was a “virtual lock” to be elected.

If true, James will be the only candidate remaining for the state’s 170 legislative members to consider on Wednesday.  A third candidate, Circuit Court Judge Keith Kelly of Gaffney, had already removed himself from consideration.

If elected, James will fill the seat vacated by former state Supreme Court chief justice Costa Pleicones, who was forced to retire after one year as head of the state’s top court after reaching the required retirement age of 72.

The 56-year-old James currently serves the Third Judicial Circuit, which consists of Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Williamsburg Counties.    While born in Savannah, James grew up in Sumter, and graduated from Wilson Hall in 1978, before attending The Citadel and the USC School of Law.

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