Three Columbia candidates seeking SC Judge Manning’s seat advance to final round

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Three Columbia lawyers, one of whom is a sitting probate judge, advanced this month to stand for election in the 170-member South Carolina General Assembly to succeed retiring state Judge Casey Manning.

Left standing are Daniel Coble, Probate Judge Amy McCulloch and Boyd Young. Attorney Kate Whetstone Usry did not advance.

The four appeared Nov. 19 before the state’s 10-member joint Judicial Merit Selection Commission, the legislative body that screens preliminary candidates for family court judge, state judge, Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. The commission can only advance a maximum of three names per post for a vote in the General Assembly.

Manning’s seat is one of a handful of contested judicial races.

A state judge’s post carries a six-year term and a salary of approximately $197,000 a year. An incumbent judge rarely faces opposition if they seek reelection.

Lawmakers will vote on all judicial candidates in early February. Candidates cannot begin seeking votes — called pledges — from lawmakers until Jan. 18, roughly a week after the legislative session starts.

Originally, seven Columbia lawyers sought to compete for Manning’s seat. Kevin Hall, Theresa Johns and Regina Lewis all withdrew before the November screening. Here’s more about the remaining three:

▪ Coble, 34, is a 2009 Clemson University graduate and 2012 University of South Carolina Law School graduate. Coble’s credentials include being an assistant solicitor with the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office from 2012-2017, and he was a Richland County magistrate judge from 2017 to this year. He’s now in private practice and has written on a variety of legal topics.

▪ McCulloch, 57, is a 1987 USC graduate and 1990 USC Law School graduate. A former 5th Circuit assistant solicitor from 1991-1996, she was elected Richland County probate judge in 1998 and has been reelected to four-year terms in that post ever since. Probate judges deal with estates, guardianship cases, marriage licenses and other matters. She has held a variety of posts with state and national probate judges’ associations and worked with others on issues concerning mental and behavioral health, including abuse and suicide prevention.

▪ Young, 46, is a 1996 Citadel graduate and 1999 USC Law School graduate. After graduation, Young was a lawyer in the Charleston County public defender’s office and in the Georgia state-supported defense in capital cases. Since 2008, he has been with the S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense, where he has been chief attorney of its death penalty trial division since 2017.

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