The attorney for indicted Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, on Friday afternoon filed a motion with the State Grand Jury to dismiss the indictment against Courson.
The 71-page motion and exhibits by Florence attorney Rose Mary Parham say special prosecutor David Pascoe lacks authority to indict Courson, one of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers, and that Courson never should have been suspended from office.
“Not only should Senator Courson never have been suspended from office, he also never should have been charged,” the motion says.
Pascoe said late Friday he had not seen the motion and had no comment.
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Courson, 72, was indicted by the State Grand Jury in March on two counts of misconduct in office and one count of using campaign money for personal expenses.
Hours later, Courson was suspended from the office he has held since 1985. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant issued the one-page suspension letter, concluding with a somewhat personal note: “I regret these unfortunate events and pray that these matters are resolved in a timely matter.”
One of the three indictments charges Courson with unlawfully converting campaign funds for his personal use. It says the veteran senator paid the Richard A. Quinn political consulting firm $247,829 from 2006 to 2012. Then the Quinn firm paid Courson “though multiple transactions” $132,802, the indictment said.
Parham’s motion asserts that Pascoe was given authority by the S.C. Supreme Court to investigate only two House members mentioned in a confidential section of a SLED report involving alleged public corruption in the S.C. House of Representatives. Pascoe has already indicted those two – Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, and Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, on charges of official misconduct. Courson is not mentioned in the confidential SLED report.
Parham’s motion also says Courson was subpoenaed by Pascoe’s State Grand Jury on March 9 of this year. Three days later, Courson learned he was a target of Pascoe’s investigation, not a witness. And on March 16, the State Grand Jury indicted Courson.
“Sen. Courson strongly denies the charges,” Parham’s motion says.
In July, Parham filed a motion asking that the charges against Courson be thrown out because they are “unconstitutionally vague.” One charge against him is a common law charge that carries 10 years in prison. No hearing has been set on that motion.