South Carolina first circuit solicitor David Pascoe went after circuit court judge Carmen Mullen during a acrimonious hearing in Beaufort, S.C. on Wednesday, accusing her of having improper communication with attorneys for former state lawmaker Rick Quinn.
Pascoe also reiterated his allegation that the judge instructed him to lay off the ex-lawmaker during a plea hearing late last year.
As a result of these alleged impartialities, Pascoe urged Mullen to recuse herself from the case moving forward – a suggestion that visibly irked the judge.
Quinn, 52, was sentenced by Mullen to two years of probation earlier this month after pleading guilty in open court to one count of misconduct in office related to his role in #ProbeGate – an ongoing investigation into corruption in state government.
Prior to his guilty plea, Quinn resigned his seat in the S.C. House of Representatives – which he had held since 2010. Prior to that, he represented another district in the House for fifteen years – including six years as majority leader.
Quinn could have been sentenced to up to a year behind bars – which is what Pascoe recommended.
“I ask that he serve every day of that (sentence),” he told Mullen, saying that the court needed to “send a message” to other corrupt lawmakers.
Instead, Mullen let him off … a controversial decision that prompted Pascoe to file an appeal two weeks ago (news of which broke exclusively on this site).
Quinn has countered that Pascoe is on a witch hunt, and that all of his actions were legal except for one – a failure to report rental income received by a family member.
Anyway, Pascoe’s appeal was heard this morning – with the prosecutor drawing a swift rebuke from the judge.
“You better have something to back it up,” Mullen told Pascoe in response to his allegation that she engaged in improper ex parte communication with Quinn’s lawyers.
Pascoe has also accused the judge of instructing him to “go light on the facts” during the December 2017 hearing where Quinn pleaded guilty. According to Pascoe, the judge wanted him to leave out information that could have been relevant to Quinn’s sentencing “so the plea won’t blow up.”