Why There Are Two Prosecutors in the First Place

March 31, 2016

Inside Insight

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Remember, our judiciary is far from independent.

As the ongoing battle between Attorney General Alan Wilson and Solicitor David Pascoe rages on, we thought it might be worth remembering why the whole controversy is even a controversy. Leave aside the question of culpability in the ongoing spat and recall what led to the introduction of a second prosecutor in the grand jury case against former Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell.

The cause was this: A state judge tried to throw the attorney general off the case on the highly dubious grounds that the A.G. was “conflicted.” That ancillary hearing was almost held in secret, but those plans were discovered by The State‘s John Monk and the hearing was made available to the public. We were there, and we have no trouble in saying that the charge that Wilson was “conflicted” was transparent fiction.

We mention all this, to repeat, not to make any observation on the ongoing controversy, but simply to say this: Judges in South Carolina are unilaterally chosen by the legislature. That they frequently act in the political interests of legislative leaders – of the officials who put them into office, in other words – is not the sort of consideration likely to give South Carolinians much faith in the independence of their judiciary.

Consider:

  • South Carolina is one of only two states in the nation (the other is Virginia) in which the legislature is involved in both the nominating and appointment process of state judges.
  • South Carolina is only one of 13 states in the U.S. without the American Bar Association-supported “merit selection” process for electing state judges.
  • South Carolina is one of two states (the other is Tennessee) in which the judicial nominating committee is appointed by the legislature. Only one other state (Virginia) appoints judges to both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals by legislative appointment.
  • South Carolina is the only state in which the legislature has appointment powers for an unexpired judicial term.

To illustrate the unique dominance South Carolina’s General Assembly holds over the judicial appointment process, also consider:

  • Forty-five states allow the governor to participate in some fashion in filling unexpired terms.
  • Twenty-six states allow the governor to participate in full term appointments.
  • Five states allow their governor to participate in methods of retention of judges.

To sum up: South Carolina does not have an independent judiciary. State judges, through no fault of their own, are put in office by the grace and favor of lawmakers. Thus, when the state’s top prosecutor goes after a legislative leader, he’d better watch out. The judges before whom he will argue may not see things with the kind of objectivity one expects from judges.

  • Buzz Martin

    For the first time since I started following your blog, I’m deeply disappointed in you. It’s clear that you are loathe to criticize Wilson, when there is no doubt that he is working overtime trying to keep a grand jury from being convened, after doing all he could to make sure that certain politicians were going to be spared by the ongoing probe. Shame on you.

  • Bible Thumper

    How weak. We have an AJ bloking a prosecution, attacking the legitimate and legal actions of the press. It appears that The Nerve is defending the fact that Wilson is bowing to political pressure and in doing so The Nerve is bowing to that same pressure. What a cowardly unauthored anonymous opinion.

  • Bible Thumper

    The ship is sinking an this article is about design flaws. That should come later.

    • Buzz Martin

      Right you are, BT.

  • M326

    Yes, but what about Jimmy Merrill and Richard Quinn????

    • Sam is an angry old man

      Sam – how sad in your retirement that you have nothing better to do than drink the kool-aid that creep Will Folks spews.

      • Saul

        If it is crap then The Nerve should expose it as such. As it is their silence is deafening.

        • Buzz Martin

          Exactly.

        • truthbetole

          They are full of shit! The fact that they are silent is proof of the Quinndom’s swiftly approaching indictment!

  • Sonny Trips

    I love an article about the colors of the Titanic curtains when she hits the iceberg. I need an answer to the question of why would Alan Wilson fire the guy who did such a good job with Harrell that he appointed the same prosecutor again after he recused himself. Why EXACTLY did Wilson have to interject himself and why would McIntosh even want to AFTER THEY RECUSED THEMSELVES. Why would they not want their prosecutor to use the State Grand Jury’s more explicit powers? These are the questions I would expect The Nerve to hit upon. Send Ron Aiken in Coach!

  • claire nettles

    certainly this process is a problem but so is the lack of follow thru by Alan Wilson. His recent actions do not reflect well on his commitment to hold Legislators accountable and he has let the investigation drag on too long.It is beginning to look like he does have a conflict of interest

  • William Morgan

    Freemason Organized Crime…is why the “above the law”, “star chamber”, “coven” gets away with deceiving we, their benefactors/employers. … It’s time that JUSTICE is served. See my FB pics for the atrocities some SC’s criminal elite masons and THEIR CUBSCOUT TRAINEES enjoy in The State of SC – SOUTHERN CORRUPTION…(we’all criminal scout trainers train ’em to be “strong leaders” down here young…so they’all GOOD LIARS by age 12)…said Deputy Lee Sleazey…while he pointed a gun at me…

  • William Morgan

    ps: Freemason Southern Corruption govt. requires office appointees to have sold their soul to Scottish rite KKK masonry prior to their resume being forwarded for further consideration by Baphommet…

  • Ishmael Beverly

    I believe there is more here than we know and I believe Alan Wilson is right. He certainly has plenty of experience as advisors with the previous AGs at his side. Wilson hasn’t cared about the Legislators in the past, why would he now?

  • truthbetole

    This is shitty coverage Ashley and you know it. Why even waste the time to type this bullshit up if you’re not willing to even give it an HONEST attempt to investigate and report properly? You are a fucking FRAUD. There is NO WAY you would go after Bobby like a dog and then hand off this shit as “watchdog work.” It’s pathetic and you should be ashamed to call yourself professional. You are BOUGHT. You are a CROOK just like the people you “pretend” to investigate….a fucking JOKE! I’ll never look at you the same again. I once RESPECTED you.