Wilson files appeal to Supreme Court on Harrell case - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

AG on Harrell case: "The General Assembly did not intend for the fox to guard the henhouse"


Attorney General Alan Wilson has asked the state's highest court to allow a Grand Jury to continue investigating a public corruption case against House Speaker Bobby Harrell while an appeal against a ruling made by a Richland County judge makes its way through the judicial system.

Wilson filed an appeal in the state Supreme Court arguing against the ruling made by Judge Casey Manning last week that ordered Wilson to cease his investigation into Harrell.

The appeal is also accompanied by a request for the high court to expedite its handling of the appeal.

Wilson had sent the results of a SLED investigation into Harrell to the State Grand Jury for further investigation and potential prosecution.

But a lawsuit filed by Harrell's legal team argued that it was up to the House Ethics Commission to investigate Harrell, not Wilson or the State Grand Jury. 

Judge Manning's ruling agreed with Harrell's team.

In the petition, Wilson and his team pointed out the state's laws "should apply to everyone, without immunity for anyone."

"The lower court's order is unprecedented in American law and unsupported by any known legal authority," wrote Wilson. "The order interferes with, impedes, and stops dead in its tracks an ongoing criminal investigation of public corruption by a State Grand Jury properly impaneled…."

Wilson argues in the appeal that he, as the state's chief prosecutor, should not have to get permission to exercise his constitutional powers to prosecute crimes such as violations of the Ethics Act.

The petition argues that the state's overhauled Ethics Act did not intend to "grant itself immunity from criminal investigation by the State Grand Jury."

"The General Assembly did not intend for the fox to guard the hen house," wrote Wilson.

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