First All-Female Appellate Court Panel in S.C. to Convene
Although only four out of the twenty-three judges who have been elected to the modern Court of Appeals have been women, on May 27, the three women presently on the court will be making history. For the first time, attorneys arguing before the court will be addressing an all-female panel.
The occasion was made possible by the February 2008 election of Judge Aphrodite Konduros to the nine-member South Carolina Court of Appeals, where she joined Judges Kaye Hearn and Paula Thomas. The addition of Judge Konduros to the Court triggered excitement in many corners that the Court, which works in three-judge panels, might eventually feature an all-female bench. As a result of the Court’s normal rotation, that event is now scheduled to occur at 9:30 a.m. on May 27, 2009, in Courtroom I of the Court of Appeals, located at 1015 Sumter Street.
"I only regret my dear friend and colleague Carol Connor did not live to witness this event," remarked Judge Hearn, who also serves as chief judge of the Court. Judge Connor, the first woman to sit on the Court of Appeals, lost a long and courageous battle with breast cancer in February 2004.
Despite the historic significance of sitting on the first all-female appellate court panel, the three judges agreed they would approach the May term of court in the same manner as any other term. "Our job is to ensure that justice is done and the law is applied correctly," explains Judge Thomas. Judge Konduros agreed, "As women, we're happy to be part of history, but the law is gender-neutral."
Due to the significance of these oral arguments, the Court of Appeals is urging potential visitors to contact the clerk’s office in advance at 803-734-1890.
Chief Judge Kaye Hearn of Conway was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1996, after spending the previous ten years on the family court bench. Judge Paula Thomas, from Pawleys Island, has been on the Court of Appeals since February of 2007. A former circuit court judge, Judge Thomas also served in the legislature. Judge Aphrodite Konduros, a resident of Greenville, served on the family court bench before her election to the Court of Appeals in February 2008.