I’ve known Jean Toal for more than 30 years. I don’t believe I’ve ever met Costa Pleicones. That established, I would say exactly the same thing to both of them: Do your job.
The idea that S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Toal and/or Associate Justice Pleicones would shirk their responsibility by recusing themselves from the historic case involving the state grand jury’s investigation of House Speaker Bobby Harrell is nonsense. There is no reason for either of them to do so; there is also no excuse for it.
The impetus for discussion of this nonsense came from an unlikely source: John Crangle, director of Common Cause South Carolina. While I often agree with Crangle on positions he takes and fights he leads concerning ethics (or the lack thereof) in government in South Carolina, he did both himself and the S.C. Supreme Court a disservice when he floated the idea that Toal and Pleicones should step down from the Harrell case.
But since he put it out there, Crangle’s theory must be addressed: that Toal and Pleicones should recuse themselves because Harrell helped the former and hurt the latter in their recent legislative battle for the position of chief justice.
My comment on that is: So what? Yes, Harrell supported Toal and opposed Pleicones — just as he has supported or opposed every Supreme Court nominee since he has been a member of the House. That would include the three other justices who will hear Attorney General Alan Wilson’s appeal of Circuit Judge Casey Manning’s order that the grand jury investigation of Harrell be halted and the matter turned over to the House Ethics Committee.
Accordingly, if Toal and Pleicones must recuse themselves, then I suppose the entire court should do likewise. Of course, that means you’ll never have a decision in this case or any other, as the Legislature elects Supreme Court justices in South Carolina. If that is the standard for establishing conflict of interest, then every case that even remotely involves a legislator carries that potential for conflict of interest. After all, Bobby Harrell — and every other member of the Legislature — supports or opposes every Supreme Court nominee.
Still more ludicrous is the idea that Harrell controls Toal due to having rounded up the votes for her to fend off Pleicones and remain chief justice. Even if you believe that Toal and/or Harrell would be involved in such a distasteful (not to mention illegal) quid pro quo, the fact is once the election was held, Harrell lost any influence he would ever have over Toal. She is now in her final term, cannot run again and is therefore not beholden to Harrell or anyone else in the Legislature for her position as chief.
The bottom line is Jean Toal is now assured of finishing out her long career on the state’s top bench as its top official, and there is nothing Harrell or any other member of the Legislature can do about that.
For the record, I don’t think that matters anyway. I believe Toal will cast her vote on the merits and on the law, applying to the case the same powerful intellect that even her detractors acknowledge. To suggest that she will submerge that intellect and remove herself from perhaps the most significant case of her career due to having been elected to her position under the system provided by law in South Carolina is insulting.
But as insulting as the recusal suggestion is to Toal, it may be even more so to Pleicones. Are we to believe that because Harrell worked against him in the House vote for chief justice that Pleicones will therefore vote against the speaker in the attorney general’s appeal of Manning’s ruling?
To believe either of these things — that Toal is in Harrell’s pocket or that Pleicones is out to get him — is to cast the worst of aspersions on the two justices both personally and as members of the state’s highest court. I don’t buy it either way.
The legacies of Jean Toal and Costa Pleicones are on the line in this case. They cannot escape that responsibility. Which is as it should be.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
Veteran Vapors now open!
Veteran-owned and operated, Veteran Vapors is located at 2308 Airport Blvd. in West Columbia. This month, 10% of all juice sales will be donated to Save the Ta-Tas. Special discounts available to veterans, military and public safety officials.
$10 Spa Specials!
Join us for 60-minute facials, microdermabrasion, bikini waxing, and more for only $10! 823 Gervais Street, Suite 120. Text your appointment request to 803-468-4643.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: email@example.com.
Real Estate Spotlight
SC HousingFinancing Housing. Building SC. To find out if you qualify or for more information visit schousing.com