Harrell raises SC judicial independence questions

(Bill Burr/WCIV)

By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's attorney general is preparing to argue before the Supreme Court why he, and not a legislative ethics panel, has the singular authority to investigate charges against House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

The justices' decision will have implications for how prosecutors handle future cases. But concerns are also being raised that not even the state's court system is immune from legislative influence.

South Carolina is one of only two states where lawmakers elect judges to interpret laws passed by legislators.

The high court on Tuesday hears arguments from Attorney General Alan Wilson and attorneys for Harrell. A think tank has accused Harrell of using his powerful position for personal benefit, and a circuit judge has ruled a legislative panel, not a grand jury, must first consider the allegations.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off