NAACP leader Randolph’s trial in Columbia court delayed

jmonk@thestate.comDecember 5, 2013 

A jury trial in Columbia city court for S.C. NAACP leader Lonnie Randolph on charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest has been delayed until after the first of the year.

It was to have begun Monday before a six-person jury.

“The case involves medical testimony on both sides, and difficulty arose in witness availability this month,” Randolph’s attorney, Joe McCulloch, said Thursday.

McCulloch said a new start date before Municipal Judge Steedley Bogan has not yet been set.

Randolph has said his admittedly erratic conduct at a Five Points dry cleaners July 12 was caused by a delicate diabetic condition.

McCulloch has argued unsuccessfully so far that the charges should be dropped because of that longstanding medical condition.

On another level, the case became a political football because City Manager Teresa Wilson showed up at the scene of Randolph’s arrest after getting a call from interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago. People raised questions about whether Santiago should have called Wilson, and whether Wilson should have gone to the scene.

The flap also came to involve Mayor Steve Benjamin, who last summer issued statements saying that administrators – meaning Wilson – should not go to crime scenes because it creates an appearance of impropriety and “it needs to stop.”

Benjamin’s criticism of Wilson, his hand-picked city manager, came only months after he pushed council to hire her at a $190,000 salary, even though she had no experience as a prior city manager.

Last January, when Benjamin persuaded other council members to hire Wilson, he told them in a public meeting that Wilson “grasps the vision for where we are trying to go as a city, but she’s very detail- and process-oriented. She’s customer-focused. She will be open, transparent and a great communicator. I fully expect her to be a superstar.”

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

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