By Paul Gable
S.C. Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty told solicitors to obey the law and now those solicitors, with Attorney General Alan Wilson’s support, want him to recuse himself from criminal cases and cases involving lawyer misconduct.
According to a September 2013 speech Beatty gave to a solicitors’ conference in Myrtle Beach, he said, “The court will no longer overlook unethical conduct, such as witness tampering, selective and retaliatory prosecutions, perjury and suppression of evidence. You better follow the rules or we are coming after you and will make an example.”
Reportedly, Wilson cited case law in a letter to 13 solicitors around the state that he said he would use to support an argument for recusal.
Only in South Carolina could the AG cite case law that supports the recusal of a judge who calls for an end to unethical conduct of attorneys and warns them to obey the law.
That says everything that needs to be said about what passes for a criminal justice system in South Carolina. A Supreme Court judge warns attorneys to obey the law. The attorneys claim this demonstrates bias on the judge’s part and will seek his recusal on their cases.
This argument goes something along the lines of ‘a prosecutor should be allowed to break the law when prosecuting a defendant who is accused of breaking the law.’ Huh?
Of course, there are some reasons for the solicitors’ concern. In Horry County alone, through the years, we had a solicitor who rose to higher elected office only to be indicted in Lost Trust. Another was certifiably insane while one reportedly accepted a suitcase of cash to reduce a murder charge and one never could get around to prosecuting police officers’ misconduct regardless of the evidence presented.
Obey the law? I’m sure it was considered somewhere along the way and quickly dismissed.
What Beatty is calling for is long overdue in South Carolina. But, I’m sure it won’t happen in what remains of my lifetime. The ‘Good Ole Boy’ system would collapse.