SC court rules against solicitor in ex-lawmaker’s plea deal

May 7, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against the state solicitor’s attempt to throw out a guilty plea by a former state lawmaker.

Wednesday’s unanimous ruling comes as Solicitor David Pascoe sought to reverse former State Rep. Rick Quinn Jr.’s plea deal that allowed him to avoid a prison sentence after being indicted on corruption charges, the Post and Courier reported. Quinn avoided the charges after he pled guilty to failing to disclose ties to a political consulting firm.

Pascoe, who oversaw a sweeping corruption probe in South Carolina, argued Quinn’s plea deal should be reversed since it was not made in court. He also argued the judge who sentenced Quinn to probation was biased and needed to recuse herself from the case.

The justices said in the ruling that Pascoe’s arguments about the judge’s bias were “specious and wholly without merit.” The court added that Pascoe does not have standing to appeal a plea deal since he is not considered an “aggrieved party” under court rules.

The state’s high court also called into question the $352,000 restitution payments Pascoe acquired from businesses and agencies in exchange for avoiding prosecution in the corruption investigation, the Post and Courier reported.

Justice Few wrote that the court does not understand what legal precedent Pascoe used to reach his “corporate integrity agreements.”

“The term has never been used by any appellate court in this state, and the term is not used in any South Carolina statute,” Few said. “The only legal authority Pascoe cites in his memorandum is his ‘unfettered discretion’ as a prosecutor.”

The court is scheduled to hear the arguments on the payments when appeal hearings begin for former state Rep. Jim Harrison, who was convicted in the corruption probe.