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Letter: Court ‘Protection’ For South Carolina Lawmakers Is Not Protecting Victims

“If these lawyers cannot fulfill their obligations … they should be forced to recuse themselves.”

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RE: SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR LAWYER-LEGISLATORS IS SUBVERTING JUSTICE

Dear Editor,

I was reading your article on special treatment for lawyers who are legislators as well. My daughter is a victim of sexual abuse. The defense attorney in her case is senator Margie Bright Matthews.

We are two years deep into this case waiting on a trial date due to her “protection.” We were prepping this week to hopefully head to trial, and I had to take my daughter in for an interview with the prosecutor to get that step out of the way. Only when we arrived the prosecutor had bad news for us: The new order protects senators who are also attorneys from being required to appear in court indefinitely.  

This is NOT fair.

My daughter is nine years old and the bastard who sexually tortured her is out there walking the streets because his attorney isn’t obligated to appear in court.

The senator also has a case from 2012 that includes six sexual assault victims. This case was actually on the docket for August and she is choosing to use her “protection” so as not to have to appear in court even though the order clearly states they can willingly appear for trials.

This is not fair to the victims. As the mother of a child whose abuser has been charged twice with first degree criminal sexual conduct with minor under the age of eleven, knowing that he is getting to live his best life – and possibly doing this to others because he chose to use a lawyer that can use her title as power to keep from going to court for upwards of nine years – isn’t fair to the VICTIMS!!

If these lawyers cannot fulfill their obligations to cases already on their desk then they should be forced to recuse themselves.

Margie Bright Matthews plays our courts like a fiddle, showing up when she chooses, responding as she chooses and making the process much harder than it should ever have to be. She fails to communicate about her cases unless a judge forces her to do so.

I have learned so much by being the parent of a victim in a heinous crime. I will NOT be silenced and I will NOT let our case go nine years before it is put on the docket.

Victims have rights, too. I get it, the defense attorney is paid to help the criminally accused and they will not force their rights to a speedy trial but as a victim’s mom, I will make sure our rights are not violated and we do not go UNHEARD.

My daughter has developed seizures induced by anxiety and she is still in therapy two years into this. She will not be able to begin her healing until we have this process over with. She suffers everyday because of what happened to her and the way she is being treated by the justice system is heart breaking because Margie Bright Matthews (and any other lawyer-politician with her same title) can use her power to play it out as long as possible.

There should not be SEXUAL ASSUALT cases that are nine years old waiting on trial dates. Margie Bright Matthews should not be allowed to continue to drag these cases out due to her power at hand.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Stone
Walterboro, S.C.

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FROM THE EDITOR …

Rebecca, Thank you so much for sharing your story with our readers. It is incredibly compelling, and I think it took a lot of courage for you to write what you did. First of all, I am incredibly sorry to hear of everything you and your daughter are dealing with – and I hope and pray you both get the justice you seek (and that your little girl deserves).

This is indeed an issue which is near and dear to my heart – one my news outlet has been focused on for several years. You referenced FITSNews’ coverage of the preferential treatment invoked by lawyer-legislators (something I am not alone in opposing, by the way), but I believe this is but a symptom of the real disease – a growing contempt for victims’ rights that has infected our criminal justice system.

And make no mistake: The fact state lawmakers appoint the very judges who show them this ongoing favoritism is the root cause of this (worsening) infection.

The man accused of assaulting your daughter certainly has rights – and I would remind readers he is considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers. Same goes for anyone accused of committing any crime. But if the justice system is abused by those in power – on behalf of ANYONE – then its integrity and its ability to dispense justice is undermined for EVERYONE.

Stories like your daughter’s are essential in exposing South Carolina’s system for what it is … a corrupt favor factory that is unfairly delaying/ denying justice to far too many victims.

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BANNER VIA: GETTY IMAGES

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