Judge Knox McMahon, who is presiding over South Carolina’s most high-profile public corruption case in decades, will not run for re-election when his term expires next year.
The Judicial Merit Selection Commission confirmed Tuesday that McMahon has written a letter saying he will not seek re-election after his term as a Circuit Court judge ends in June 2018. McMahon was first elected to the bench by legislators in 2006.
McMahon must rule soon on the lawfulness of a surprise March raid by the State Law Enforcement Division on the Columbia offices of Richard Quinn & Associates. McMahon’s decision will have a bearing on how far special prosecutor David Pascoe can proceed in his wide-ranging investigation into State House corruption.
McMahon’s decision not to seek re-election means he will not need to curry favor with legislators to secure enough votes to win re-election to his Circuit Court seat. That frees him to rule without fear of political consequence in the S.C. public corruption case.
McMahon’s one-sentence letter said he intended to retire at the end of his term, June 30, 2018.
Richard Quinn & Associates is the most prominent and influential public relations and political advice company in South Carolina, with numerous clients on the federal, state and local level, including legislators.
McMahon, 69, is an ex-cop known for plain talk that includes a knack for quoting the law also also pop singer Alicia Keys
“Don’t make me read between the lines, go straight to the chase,” McMahon told lawyers for state Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, and his father, Richard Quinn, toward the end of a daylong hearing last week, paraphrasing one of Keys’ pop songs, “A Woman’s Worth.”
Lawyers for the Quinns were trying to persuade McMahon to disqualify Pascoe from the case because, they argued, the prosecutor and nine SLED agents had bungled a search-and-seizure raid at the Quinns’ Gervais Street offices earlier this spring.