Carolyn Cason Matthews has had a distinguished legal career. After graduating from Furman University with a B.A. in English Literature, she received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1978.  Carolyn was awarded the AMJUR award for the highest grade in Torts.  She was inducted into Wig and Robe as a member of the top 10% of the class, and was a research assistant to Professors John Montgomery and David Owen in publishing their textbook Products Liability and Safety, Foundation Press, 1980.

Carolyn began her legal career as the first woman Staff Attorney at the South Carolina Supreme Court, and then served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court George T. Gregory, Jr. 

After her Law Clerk position, Carolyn served as an Assistant Attorney General under Attorneys General Dan McLeod and Travis Medlock.  She wrote more than 200 briefs and argued more than 80 cases solo before the South Carolina State Supreme Court.  She successfully argued the death penalty case of State v. Donald Henry (Pee Wee) Gaskins, the state’s most notorious serial killer.

She next served as Counsel to the South Carolina House Of Representatives Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative David H. Wilkins [later Speaker of the House and U. S. Ambassador to Canada].  In that capacity, Carolyn drafted legislation for the Judiciary Committee, coordinated review of all legislation referred to the Judiciary Committee, and supervised all Law Clerks and Staff Attorneys.

Carolyn entered private practice, becoming a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, and later joining Woodward Cothran & Herndon. Her practice concentrated on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations at the South Carolina Legislature and at the U. S. Congress.  She continued her appellate practice, including arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Carolyn was elected an Administrative Law Judge by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1999 and served for 16 years.  She tried Civil Cases from state agencies, including: Department of Health and Environmental Control [DHEC], Department of Revenue {DOR], Department of Natural Resources [DNR], Department of Transportation [DOT], Department of insurance [DOI], Department of Health and Human Services {DHHS], Department of Social Services [DSS], and the State Law Enforcement Division [SLED].  

She also presided over appeals from Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s  [LLR] 49 disciplinary Licensing Boards, including doctors, nurses, and general contractors. 

Carolyn became a sole practitioner in 2015, serving as an Expert Witness on administrative law in state and federal litigation, a Certified Civil Court Mediator, and a Hearing Officer for the South Carolina State Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In 2023, Carolyn became a Partner at Bell Legal Group with her law school classmate Ed Bell.

Carolyn is married, and has a daughter, Austin Adams Bruner, who received her J.D. degree at the Charleston School of Law, and practices in Charleston, South Carolina.  She and her husband are the proud parents of Carolyn’s two granddaughters.  By marriage, Carolyn acquired two bonus daughters and a grandson who live in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bar & Court Admissions

  • State Courts:  South Carolina 1978
  • United States District Courts: District of South Carolina 1979
  • Appellate Courts: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 1981
  • United States Supreme Court, on Motion of Senator J. Strom Thurmond 1986

Publications

  • Your Body, Your DNA: Addressing the Constitutionality of Databanked DNA Under the Fourth Amendment (2016)

Education

  • J.D. University of South Carolina School of Law, 1978
  • B.A. Furman University, 1972
  • University of London, Birkbeck College, Fall 1970
  • Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fall 1970

Professional Associations & Memberships:

  • S. C.  Bar 
  • S. C. Bar Executive Council, Senior Lawyers Division [2013-present]
  • Richland County Bar Association [1978-present]
  • South Carolina Women Lawyers Association Board [1995-2005]
  • National Association of Administrative Law Judges [1999-2015]

Honors

  • President, South Carolina Executive Council, Senior Lawyers Division [2020-2021]
  • President, South Carolina Women Lawyers Association [2012-2013]
  • John Belton O’Neill Inn of Court [2002-present]
  • Woman of Distinction, South Carolina Girl Scouts [2012]
  • Fellow, Riley Diversity Leaders Institute of Furman University [2011]Graduate, Leadership South Carolina [1994]

Selected Writings & Presentations

  • “Tips from the Bench” – Panel with Justice Hearn, Judge McDonald, and Judge Mullen – 2014
  • “Administrative Practice” – Presentation to Department of Employment and Workforce Insurers  2014
  • League of Women Voters:  Panel “Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary”  2010
  • Bridge the Gap: “Administrative Law”  [2 presentations per year to new Law school graduates, at request of Chief Justice 2002-2011]
  • “The Ten Commandments of Administrative Law Practice: – Tips From the BenchSeminar each December 2002-2007

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  • Ethics for State Government Attorneys – “Professionalism in Administrative Law Practice” – S. C. Association of Counties Conferences 2003 and 2004
  • Department of Revenue Ethics Seminars – 2003-2004
  • “The Lighter Side of the Law” – S. C. Women Lawyers Association Conference – 2003
  • “Ethics and Professionalism” – South Carolina Auditors and Assessors – 2002
  • Panel University of South Carolina Law Students – “How Judges Perceive Lawyers”-2003
  • “Judicial Independence” – Panel Discussion – S. C. Women Lawyers Conference 2002
  • “Legislative update” – Presentation to Natural Resources Section – S. C. Bar Convention 1994
  • “South Carolina Government Restructured – the Private Sector Impact” – 1993
  • “Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel” – Presentation to all Attorneys General of South Carolina – 1986
  • “Appellate Practice” –   South Carolina Circuit Judges Conference – 1982 

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