Judge: State Grand Jury has no jurisdiction in Harrell case - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Judge: State Grand Jury has no jurisdiction in Harrell case


Judge Casey Manning has ruled against Attorney General Alan Wilson in a case that could mean a huge legal victory for House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

For the past few months, Manning has been hearing from attorneys for Harrell and Wilson on whether or not the attorney general has the power to hand over his findings in his ethics investigation against the house speaker to the State Grand Jury or the House Ethics Committee.

In an order issued just after 5 p.m., Manning ruled the State Grand Jury had no jurisdiction to investigate Harrell.

Wilson released a short, two-sentence statement after the ruling's release.

"We believe today's order of Judge Manning is without any foundation or support in the law," said Wilson. "This Office will vigorously pursue all appellate remedies and will seek to continue this investigation." 

Harrell faces serious allegations against him that claim he directly reimbursed himself from his campaign, spent nearly $300,000 on travel and purchased cell phones, computers, equipment, and for membership to two of the city's private dinner clubs.

Harrell said he's satisfied with Manning's ruling.

"In the ruling, he says today, despite repeated requests Alan Wilson was not able to provide any kind of proof of any of the things he's been saying," said Harrell.

Wilson disagrees.

"What this order does is it gives criminal immunity to a class of elected officials that puts them beyond the law," said Wilson. "We're a nation of laws, not men."

What Harrell isn't satisfied with is Wilson not releasing SLED's investigative report in the case.

"He said before that he couldn't because of grand jury," said Harrell. "He said before he couldn't because it was an ongoing investigation. The judge said today the investigation is over and grand jury is annulled. There is no reason for him not to release the SLED report now."

"There is an on-going criminal investigation what law enforcement agency would ever release a report during an on-going criminal investigation," said Wilson. "By the way, the grand jury case is not over. It's going on appeal to the State Supreme Court and under law, grand jury goes on while we're waiting for appeal. Supreme Court may overrule Judge Manning."

Harrell says he's glad the ruling has been made, but wishes it happened sooner.

"It's a shame the taxpayers have had to foot the bill for 15 months of an investigation that is actually, had been totally inappropriate from the beginning," said Harrell.

Wilson says nothing is over and they will continue to pursue the investigation.

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