CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE’S “TRANSPARENCY” BID FALLS SHORT …
Embattled S.C. Circuit Court judge Casey Manning released a flood of court documents related to the ongoing Bobby Harrell corruption case this week, attempting to mitigate criticism that his office had been less-than-transparent in the process.
Manning authorized the clerk of the statewide grand jury to release seventeen documents – most of them court filings related to the investigation of the powerful S.C. Speaker of the House, who has been embroiled in controversy for nearly two years.
Harrell’s drama began in September 2012, when reporter Renee Dudley (formerly of The Charleston Post and Courier) exposed more than $325,000 worth of dubious reimbursements claimed by Harrell from his campaign account. Since then, the allegations against the influential legislative leader have snowballed … as has the political drama surrounding the case (in large part due to Harrell’s amateur hour political and public relations “management” of the crisis).
In January, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson referred the case – and an initial complaint filed by the S.C. Policy Council – to a statewide grand jury.
Since then Wilson – who has been the subject of a vicious smear campaign by the Speaker’s political operation – says his office has uncovered additional “potential criminal matters” related to the Harrell case. Even so Manning – possibly under duress – has attempted to shut down Wilson’s investigation and route the proceedings back to a jury of Harrell’s peers in the S.C. House of Representatives (even though he’s the judge who signed off on the grand jury probe in the first place).
The Speaker’s scandal currently resides before the S.C. Supreme Court (a body Harrell is widely believed to have in his back pocket). Justices are expected to hold their first hearings on the matter within the next five weeks.
Anyway … now that we’re all caught up on the background of the case, let’s look at the documents released this week by the judge ….
Here they are:
1. Letter from Ashley Landess
2. Complaint from South Carolina Policy Council
3. Attorney General Letter to SLED
4. Motion to Disqualify Attorney General and Supporting Affidavit
5. Attorney General’s Response to Motion to Disqualify and Supporting Affidavits
6. Reply of Robert W. Harrell, Jr. to Motion to Response to Disqualify Attorney General
7. Attorney General’s Proposed Order Denying Motion to Disqualify
8. Robert W. Harrell, Jr.’s Proposed Order Submitted March 28, 2014
9. Brief of Attorney General on the Inapplicability of Rainey v. Haley to the Current State Grand Jury Matter
10. Memorandum of Robert W. Harrell, Jr. Submitted April 2, 2014
11. Attorney General Supplemental Brief Refuting the Application of Rainey v. Haley to this Case
12. Email and Attachment Submitted April 16, 2014
13. Robert W. Harrell, Jr.’s Proposed Order Submitted May 7, 2014
14. Attorney General’s Proposed Order Finding Rainey v. Haley Inapplicable to the Current State Grand Jury Matter
15. Court’s Final Order
16. Attorney General Notice of Appeal and Motion to Expedite
17. Attorney General Petition for Supersedeas
If you clicked on each one of those links and read each one of those pleadings, congratulations. You are a better citizen than us …
Of course Manning’s “docu-dump” is notable for what it didn’t include. For example, Manning did not release a copy of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report into Harrell’s political operations. Harrell has been calling on Wilson to release this report for weeks – although the Attorney General is prohibited from doing so by law while the grand jury investigation.
Could Manning have released it?
It’s not immediately clear … in fact it’s not immediately clear whether Manning has even seen the report.
There is one critical file Manning has seen, though – and deliberately omitted from his recent “docu-dump.” We’re referring to the so-called “CIM” – which is prosecutor shorthand for “case initiation memo.” This is the document prepared by prosecutors as a summary of the allegations – or in Harrell’s case, a summary of the findings of the SLED report.
According to a pair of sources familiar with this document, the CIM in Harrell’s case is “beyond damning” for the Speaker.
“Which is among the reasons it wasn’t released,” one of the sources said.
Naturally, FITS is endeavoring to obtain a copy of this “summary of allegations” in Harrell’s case, although we are told Manning has placed the document under seal – possibly at the request of Wilson’s office.