COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - In a 45-minute hearing before the state's Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon, attorneys at the Attorney General's office and for the Speaker of the House battled again over a decision made by a Richland County Circuit Court judge.
The justices were rigorous as they asked attorneys to break down every detail of their stance.
"You always get questions on all sides of the spectrum in arguments," said Robert Stepp, Bobby Harrell's attorney. "You can't read too much into it. But it did seem to me that the court was concerned by the failure of the attorney general to make any evidentiary showing to Judge Manning."
The hearing was in reference to an appeal filed by Attorney General Alan Wilson's camp asking that a circuit court decision in Richland County be revoked.
In May, Judge Casey Manning ruled that ethics allegations against Bobby Harrell be heard by the House Ethics committee and not handled by the Attorney General's office or a grand jury.
"I was surprised to hear the way the whole thing was characterized," said Ashley Landess after hearing deliberation between justices and attorneys Tuesday.
Landess is the person who filed the original ethics complaint to Alan Wilson's office in February of last year.
"It was obvious that the conflicts of interest were too deep to the point of violating U.S. Constitutional due process. Literally the speakers' staff would have investigated the matter. Some of those staffers were witnesses," said Landess.
Although a decision was not made, Harrell seemed to be pleased with the way Justices questioned Wilson's attorneys.
"What we just witnessed in there was that the court said that Judge Manning had access to all of this information, including the SLED report and made a determination that without a doubt there wasn't anything criminal presented to him or that he had seen," Harrell said. "The Attorney General is simply trying to convict me in public opinion because he can't seem to get it done in a courtroom like he should do it. He's constantly, constantly out doing press conferences and other things to talk about this publicly, when what he should be doing is simply doing the job properly."
State Supreme Court justices have up to 30 days to make a decision on the appeal.