Posted Dec 20, 2013 11:49 pm CST
South Carolina’s attorney general says he will ask a state supreme court justice to recuse himself from criminal cases, after the justice told a group of prosecutors in a speech that they had “been getting away with too much for too long,” and said that unethical prosecutors would be held accountable for misconduct.
In a Dec. 12 letter (PDF) to the 13 jurisdictional prosecutors who complained about the remarks, Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would seek Justice Donald Beatty’s recusal in criminal matters on a case-by-case basis.
Beatty spoke in September at the South Carolina Solicitors’ Association annual fall conference. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, which attended the speech, Beatty told the group that the supreme court would come after them for–among other things–witness tampering, selective and retaliatory prosecutions, perjury and suppression of evidence.
“For too long we have looked the other way, but that’s over. We are not just going to overturn convictions; we are going to take your licenses,” Beatty told the audience.
The attorney general said that Beatty’s “repeated admissions that the Court has previously ‘turned a blind eye’ to prosecutorial abuses, but now will not ‘protect your convictions,’ and instead will ‘take your licenses,’ could undermine public confidence in the Supreme Court.”
Wilson characterized Beatty’s remarks as “confrontational and threatening” and added that “for him to leave each prosecutor with the impression that he or she is facing potential disbarment or other judicial sanction cannot help but harm prosecutors’ morale and discourage those who wish to make public service and prosecution their career.”
He closed his letter by calling Beatty “a fine man and dedicated jurist” whose remarks were “intemperate” and “inappropriate.”
Hat tip: The State.
ABAJournal.com: “S.C. prosecutors seek recusal of supreme court justice from all criminal cases for critical remarks”