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Letter: South Carolina Solicitor Slams Attorney General’s Office

“I don’t have time to play Alan’s games …”

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RE | BOWEN TURNER CASES IMPROPERLY ASSIGNED TO SOLICITOR

Dear Editor,

A few years ago, I handled a case in another circuit at the request of its solicitor. Attorney general Alan Wilson found out, called the other solicitor, and there was a heated discussion whereby Wilson made the exact same argument FITSNews made in yesterday’s article. Long story short, I stayed on the case. 

Having said that, your opinion piece echoing the attorney general’s position verbatim is something I want to address with the other fifteen solicitors. It’s going to be an issue in the future because the attorney general’s office is pushing it, and quite frankly we need a uniform way in dealing with conflicts or cases we wish to transfer out of our circuit. It may also give us an opportunity to address the attorney general’s backlog if they desire to handle the cases. 

Solicitors send cases to other circuits with and without a letter from the attorney general’s office. My office has handled many cases in other circuits without a letter. When I’ve handled cases outside my circuit with a letter, it was simply a rubber stamp of the attorney general asking me at the direction of the other Solicitor. There needs to be a better, more uniformed procedure than that process. I applaud your piece because it may start a dialogue. 

I can’t speak for my good friend Strom Thurmond as to why he didn’t get a rubber stamp letter, but I didn’t because a letter is unnecessary, our offices have had a prosecutorial reciprocity type relationship for at least a decade, and Strom’s office already had charges on the defendant. I don’t want to say much more because my office has pending matters with the defendant. 

As a journalist, I understand that you won’t divulge your source, but I have no doubt Alan Wilson or his office is behind yesterday’s opinion piece. It’s irresponsible for him to conduct business that way. If he has a problem with how solicitors send cases to other circuits, he needs to address us in person, not in the press. Providing the story and statutory law to a news outlet in order to get a sensational headline isn’t how an attorney general’s office should conduct business. This is particularly true when there is still a pending investigation. 

I don’t have time to play Alan’s games. I’ve spent the last several days working with law enforcement concerning the murder of a six-year-old on Friday night. My suggestion to Alan is that he spend his time working on the explosion of violent crime in our state, reducing his office’s criminal docket which is probably the worst in the state, and improving his 7 percent conviction rate for child porn cases in my circuit that his office exclusively prosecutes.

Sincerely,

David Pascoe
S.C. First Circuit Solicitor

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FROM THE EDITOR …

Thanks for your kind words, Mr. Solicitor. I certainly hope our coverage will “start a dialogue” on this issue as there clearly needs to be uniformity in how these cases are handled. All due respect, though, I believe the constitutional provision and statutory language cited (and linked) in my coverage expressly provides for such uniformity – there just seems to be an unwillingness on your part to follow the law. Seriously: Just because you didn’t reference the provision or the statute in your letter doesn’t mean they don’t exist – or that you don’t have to follow them in referring cases outside of your circuit.

With regard to the other fifteen solicitors, my news outlet has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the attorney general’s office seeking a record of all such referrals. I look forward to sharing that information with you and your readers as soon as it becomes available.

You were right about one thing in your letter though, I do not discuss my sources. I appreciate your recognition of that even as you based a third of your letter on a hunch as to who they might be.

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