HEAD-SCRATCHING MAYORAL ANTICS
The mayor of a suburban town in the Midlands region of South Carolina is in hot water after making an unorthodox court appearance on behalf of a controversial defendant.
Hardy King – the mayor of Irmo, S.C. – has riled his town council members, local law enforcement leaders and members of the judicial branch after appearing in municipal court this week on behalf of defendant Ronald Dula of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Dula owns a piece of property at the well-traveled intersection of Lake Murray Boulevard and St. Andrews Road in the heart of Irmo, a small suburban town of around 13,000 located roughly ten miles northwest of Columbia, S.C.
Town leaders – including King – have been trying to get him to either fix or demolish an abandoned building located on this property for months but so far he has refused to do so.
King – who helped pass a local ordinance targeting this very property – surprised town council members by appearing in court on Dula’s behalf this week even though he is not an attorney and had not been called as a witness in the case. Also, King has previously told town council members not to attend municipal court hearings on behalf of those who appear before the court (sound advice, in our book).
Nonetheless, King appeared on Dula’s behalf, specifically referencing himself as the mayor and proceeding to lobby for Dula to be cleared on a $500 ticket related to the property.[timed-content-server show=”2017-Jun-25 00:00:00 -0000″ hide=”2017-Jul-10 00:00:00 -0000″]
King’s appearance provoked a flood of reaction … almost all of it negative.
“The mayor got an ordinance passed on this issue and then went to court to advocate for the guy who broke the law,” a source familiar with the situation told us.
Hypocrisy and ethical issues aside (King has no business appearing in municipal court unless he is a party to an action), there’s another component of this saga creating headaches for the local politician.
“(Dula) has been calling the police liars,” a source familiar with the case told us.
Not surprisingly, sources close to the department tell us King’s support for Dula has created a major rift between him and the Irmo police department.
Ultimately, King’s advocacy on behalf of Dula was only partially successful. A guilty verdict previously issued against the defendant was upheld – although the fine associated with this verdict was reduced.
King was first elected mayor of Irmo in 2011 and was reelected in 2015 – narrowly beating back a challenge from a sitting town councilman. Our guess is with antics like this, he will face opposition again.
For those of you new to this website, it is based in the Irmo, S.C. area – but we don’t typically pay much attention to the town’s political drama. Furthermore when it comes to battles between private property owners and government, it’s worth noting we tend to err on the side of the private property owner.
This case struck us as interesting, though … most notably for the fallout associated with King’s clear lapse in judgment.
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