Crime & Courts

South Carolina Judge Bends Over For Another Violent Criminal

And once again, a powerful lawyer-legislator is pulling the strings …

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South Carolina circuit court judge Bentley Price of Charleston, S.C. should have gotten the message by now. No more lenient sentences for violent offenders. No more anemic bonds for accused killers. No more sketchy procedural moves to rig the system in favor of powerful lawyer-legislators.

People are sick of this corrupt, insider deal-making … sick of judges selling out justice so they can kowtow to the politicians who appoint them.

As this news outlet has repeatedly noted, the current system has enabled widespread institutional corruption, shredded the rights of victims, empowered violent criminals and materially eroded public safety.

It has also turned the judiciary into little more than a political annex of the legislature.

Unfortunately, Price isn’t getting the message.

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Even with all sorts of, um, “uncertainty” hanging over his head … he continues allowing lawyer-legislators to call the shots in his courtroom.

We saw this trend at work (again) in his courtroom on Monday when accused murderer Dartez Lamont Ferguson Jr. was allowed to remain free on bond despite prosecutors meticulously documenting the violent offender’s repeated violations of the conditions of his release.

Sound familiar?

It should … yet this is sadly just another example of South Carolina’s justice system working in favor of violent victimizers. And working against the interests of public safety.

(Click to View)

Dartez Lamont Ferguson Jr. (Al Cannon Detention Center)

Ferguson, 27, of North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder (and several related charges) following a November 8, 2021 shooting at a North Charleston grocery store. Prior to this incident, his record already contained several arrests for violent offenses – including a 2017 guilty plea on a weapons charge (that was downgraded from attempted murder) as well as 2015 pleas on assault and battery and strong arm robbery charges.

And those are just the resolved cases involving Ferguson.

Just months before his arrest on murder charges, he was indicted on another strong arm robbery charge – and is also currently facing multiple drug charges. Oh, and since his murder arrest Ferguson has been hit with an indecent exposure charge.

Clearly, being out on bond with pending charges has not deterred him from committing additional crimes. Frankly, this is an individual who should have never received bond in the first place – let alone additional coddling from a circuit court judge after he repeatedly violated it.

Price appeared to belatedly recognize this … especially after the mother of the November 2021 murder victim spoke out against him being allowed to remain free following the violations. So he ruled to revoke Ferguson’s bond … initially.

“Initially, judge Price revoked Ferguson’s bond entirely for the next two weeks until the defense protested, at which point Price changed his ruling,” Cameron Bopp of WCSC-TV 5 (CBS – Charleston, S.C.) reported.

Wait … what?

“The defense protested …”

Who, exactly, is “the defense?”

(Click to View)

State representative Leon Stavrinakis laughs as his fellow lawyer-legislator, Todd Rutherford, gestures during an April 2023 session of the S.C. General Assembly (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Bopp and his television station declined to mention any of this, but Ferguson is represented by state representative Leon Stavrinakis – one of the powerful lawyer-legislators who picks judges under the Palmetto State’s current, corrupt system.

Stavrinakis has a history of receiving preferential treatment from Price – which is probably why he leapt to Price’s defense last fall after this media outlet called the judge for the excessive and unconscionable leniency he showed toward a serial abuser of women in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Stavrinakis even bragged at Price’s investiture ceremony about how he and another state lawmaker got him elected.

Not only did Price bow to Stavrinakis on Ferguson’s bond, he apparently used his authority as chief executive judge to manipulate the docket so he could hear the case. According to our sources, Ferguson’s bond revocation hearing was originally scheduled to be heard by another circuit court judge – Roger Young – until Price intervened.

Insane, right? A judge bending over backward on behalf of a violent convict/ accused murderer – over the objections of the prosecutor and the victim? Sadly, no … in South Carolina that isn’t crazy. It’s normal. It is par for the course. It is expected.

In South Carolina, we have normalized institutional injustice to the point it has become noteworthy when the system works the way it is supposed to work. And judges like Price are the reason things have become so backward.

According to a July 14, 2023 press release (.pdf) from the much-maligned S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (SCJMSC), Price is up for reelection in 2024. Make absolutely no mistake: Any lawmaker who votes to give this equivocating pile of pusillanimy another term on the bench is not only enabling corruption and empowering violent criminals, they are endangering victims and promoting the erosion of public safety in our state.

It’s as simple as that …

Sadly, lawmakers have failed so spectacularly when it comes to choosing judges – and have so selfishly and corruptly exploited this failure for their own financial benefit – they have lost the right to have any role in this process.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

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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8 comments

MaryContrary Top fan August 30, 2023 at 9:58 pm

?????

Reply
MaryContrary Top fan August 30, 2023 at 9:58 pm

?????

Reply
Daniel Anderson Top fan August 31, 2023 at 10:03 am

So let me get this right. In SC we have lawyer-legislators that appoint judges and then can turn around and try cases in front of the same judges that they appointed. How can this happen??? Have we anyone serving in the SC State Assembly that will even attempt to change this obvious travesty and conflict of interest?

Reply
res ipsa loquitur Top fan August 31, 2023 at 4:49 pm

A few questions. If Judge Price is as bad as stated in the article who are the other candidates seeking to become a Judge? Can Fitsnews do a story on the candidates running against Judge Price?

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Mark Houde Top fan August 31, 2023 at 7:34 pm

Mr. Anderson’s comment hit the nail squarely on the head and FitsNews has been hammering away at this ridiculously corrupt system for a long while now. Until a legislator steps up to change the system…

Reply
Justice Moves Slow August 31, 2023 at 8:03 pm

Rattling The System’s Unstable Foundation?

So criminal complaints that revolve around a former SC State judge and several corrupt lowcountry lawyers are rumored to be named in the draft with damming evidence. Could be in the mail to Wilson’s office by now. Maybe even McMaster’s? Dunno, Who knows. Could be later. Could be now. Whatever may or may not happen, I hope FitsNews is given the advantage and receives copies in advance if Wilson and/or McMaster does not have them yet so this one doesn’t end up swept under the rug. Many SC lawyers are sleeze bags. Even like Attorney Milton Stratos once said, “The system is nothing like they taught us in law school.” SLED spies on everyone. They should be careful with who they tip off. Remember when SLED agents illegally tipped off a SC State Senator and Former member of Congress that the feds were spying on his son?

Meyer v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs, 482 F.3d 1232, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (concluding that filing a criminal complaint is an exercise of the First Amendment right to petition).

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Margaret Top fan September 2, 2023 at 3:36 pm

Clearly there needs to be a separation of powers. This is the “good ol’ boy” system hard at work. Time for change and for the constituents to rally.

Reply
Anonymous October 10, 2023 at 11:12 am

Is this judge funded by George Soros?

Reply

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