Jimmy Chandler (December 4, 1949 - August 7, 2010) founded SCELP in 1987, and for over 15 years he was SCELP's sole attorney. Jimmy represented national, state, and local organizations in environmental cases before state and federal courts and agencies. His cases involved a variety of issues, including wetlands, coastal management, water quality, air quality, solid and hazardous waste landfills and incinerators, and mining. Prior to forming SCELP, Jimmy practiced law in Columbia for 10 years. His environmental work has been recognized by several state and national awards, including the Sierra Club's William O. Douglas Award, the South Carolina General Assembly's Environmental Awareness Award, and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation's Conservationist of the Year Award.
Jimmy was raised in Georgetown and lived in Pawleys Island until his death. He received a B.A. in Economics from Davidson College in 1972, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina in 1973, and a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1977.
Jimmy was married to Rebecca McCarthy Chandler and had one daughter, Leigh, who was born in 1994. When not working, Jimmy spent his time watching his daughter play softball and enjoyed getting out on the water and playing rhythm guitar for Three Way, an oldies rock & roll, blues and party band.
Sadly, Jimmy lost his battle with cancer on August 7, 2010. His death represents a tremendous loss to South Carolina and those that knew him, yet gives cause for reflection on a life and career well lived. The impact he made on our state's environment is immeasurable. He was the trailblazer in environmental law in South Carolina and he left an amazing legacy that SCELP is proud and determined to carry on, in his honor.
Some of Jimmy's most significant cases included:
Smiley vs. DHEC -- ensured that citizens have the right to challenge environmental permitting decisions through the administrative and legal systems;
Dewey Wise -- the first case establishing that citizens can bring enforcement actions for violations of the Coastal Zone Management Act;
Debordieu Dredging -- set precedent that is still utilized today in dredging permits: applicants must stay 10 feet away from marsh grass and oyster beds to prevent sloughing of the marsh and damage to the oyster beds;
Willbrook Dredging -- the SC Supreme Court ruled that economic benefits alone were not enough to establish an overriding public interest necessary for dredging, permit for the dredging of a canal and the creation of waterfront lots was denied;
Project DP (Spectre) -- an extremely significant case that removed the cloud over isolated freshwater wetlands in the coastal zone and affirmed that the Coastal Management Program (CMP) is a binding and enforceable law.