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SC Politics

South Carolina Governor Jumps Into Latest Judicial Scandal

“Henry come lately?”

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has spent decades in professional politics – including eight years as attorney general of the Palmetto State from 2003-2011 and the last six-and-a-half years as governor. During that time, he has done precious little to move South Carolina forward – making him a definitional career politician, one slavishly devoted to the failed status quo that holds this state back on so many levels.

Over the last few months, though, McMaster has belatedly begun making noise on the issue of judicial reform – ever-so-gingerly calling for changes to the inherently corrupt method by which a handful of powerful lawyer-legislators pick judges in the Palmetto State.

While McMaster has been on the sidelines for much of this conversation, he has a way of parachuting in when things get … advantageous? Consider his eleventh hour endorsement of former U.S. president Donald Trump back in 2016, a move which Trump repaid by clearing a path for him to become governor the following year.

And which Trump continues to repay … for reasons surpassing understanding.



Anyway, McMaster jumped back into the judicial reform debate this week in the aftermath of our exclusive reporting a week ago on the illegitimate, illegal, and unconstitutional release of convicted killer Jeroid J. Price from the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).

Retiring S.C. circuit court judge Casey Manning set the gang leader free even though he had more than fifteen years remaining on his sentence. Manning’s order – which was originally sealed from public view – expressly violated South Carolina’s mandatory minimums on murder convictions, as contained in § 16-3-20 (A) of the state’s code of laws. It also violated the victims’ bill of rights provision of the S.C. Constitution (Article I, Section 24) which, among other provisions, allows victims the right to “be informed of any proceeding when any post-conviction action is being considered, and be present at any post-conviction hearing involving a post-conviction release decision.”

Last Wednesday, I called for a criminal investigation into Manning – who has a history of aiding and abetting judicial corruption in South Carolina. That call has since been echoed by the family members of University of North Carolina football player Carl Smalls, who was murdered by Price in a gang-related shooting at Club Voodoo in Columbia, S.C. during the early morning hours of December 7, 2002.

Unfortunately, McMaster ignored Manning’s corrupt history – presenting the retiring judge with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, just four months ago. McMaster heralded Manning’s “remarkable career” as well as his “remarkable impact on our state” in bestowing the award upon him.

(Click to View)

Casey Manning (Facebook)

This week, McMaster is putting Manning on blast for freeing Price – a decision current attorney general Alan Wilson is attempting to undo.

“The early and unsupervised release of this inmate under the circumstances, particularly without SCDC’s awareness or input, was seemingly contrary to law and obviously at odds with common sense,” McMaster wrote in a letter to SCDC director Bryan Stirling.

According to the governor, the “clandestine” release of Price “threatens public safety but also implicates the public’s confidence in the judicial system and the rule of law.”

Yeah … somebody fit that guy for a ‘Captain Obvious’ hat.

The governor’s letter wasn’t completely worthless, though.

“In addition to seeking to rectify this apparent injustice, we must also determine whether this is an isolated incident,” McMaster continued. 

To that end, he instructed Stirling to “determine whether any similar early release orders have been issued and provided to SCDC” since January 1, 2022.

Really? Why go back just one year?

As previously reported, law enforcement and prosecutorial leaders are said to be looking into other orders issued by Manning during his final days on the bench – and potentially orders issued by other judges at the behest of powerful lawyer-legislators in the S.C. General Assembly.

“You’re just scratching the surface,” a sources familiar with the situation told us last week following our initial reporting on Manning’s decision to free the gang leader at the behest of S.C. minority leader Todd Rutherford.

Count on this news outlet to keep digging … while at the same time tracking which politicians are serious about holding this failed system accountable.





Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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Kathleen Bounds Top fan April 26, 2023 at 1:17 pm

The original set of facts is bad enough…..and the SC Supremes only rubbed salt in the wound by PROHIBITING media presence/equipment inside its Chamber this morning while they heard testimony regarding the SECRET early release of a convicted felon. TOO MANY SECRET HEARINGS for our state’s and its citizens’ good.

stephen henry Top fan April 26, 2023 at 3:28 pm

Even when McMaster tries to trick the public into believing he is interested in doing the right thing, he reveals the opposite is the case. One year back …. What an insult to the public and to justice.

Truth Has Arrived April 26, 2023 at 11:27 pm

Scratching the surface as to what as to the lawlessness that has been going on behind closed doors is right.

There is plenty of sticky mud to sling. And in these modern times, a person doing so is better protected than the days before social media took off.

Several SC circuit court judges need to be locked up along with many of their cronies.

Jean April 27, 2023 at 11:25 pm

Secret hearings and judicial misconduct are happening in every SC county. Why hasn’t the SC judicial system had an overhaul? Oh that’s right! Because they govern themselves with lawyer legislators friends and McMasters in their back pockets. This mafia judicial system has gotten away with murder among many other crimes against SC citizens for way too long.

CongareeCatfish Top fan April 27, 2023 at 8:28 am

I don’t know about the media block on the hearing, but the full video of it is available on the judiciary website. ALOT of details to unpack about how it all went down. Will, you should get the input of an experienced general session lawyer who has watched this thing….so many levels of highly suspicious details. Would make for a great follow-up article.

Teresa Whetzel Top fan April 27, 2023 at 5:50 pm

Just so f’n unbelievable. Wise up, This governor knows how everything works

Reader Top fan April 30, 2023 at 5:05 am

I thought we let the cotes (courts) deal with that stuff as he told Jody Barr when asked about another SC issue. Why get involved now, Henry? Just let the cites deal with it!


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