NORMALLY, RICK Hubbard would be the hands-down choice in the race for solicitor of the Lexington County-based 11th Judicial Circuit. He’s a career prosecutor with far more courtroom and managerial experience than his opponents, a person who was in charge of day-to-day operations when the elected solicitor was, to put it kindly, not particularly engaged, and he was being groomed to take over one of the top prosecutorial posts in the state.
But there’s also this: The elected solicitor he worked for was Donnie Myers. Mr. Myers was known equally for sending killers to their death and for bending and sometimes breaking the rules to get those death sentences. Mr. Hubbard worked for Mr. Myers for 22 years, while Mr. Myers let defendants languish in jail before they were even tried, and too often forced appeals courts to overturn guilty verdicts, which in turn forced families of victims to endure a second excruciating trial.
Clearly no one in Mr. Myers’ office could rein in Mr. Myers. But everyone in that office had to decide whether to continue to be associated with him. And Mr. Hubbard served as Mr. Myers’ top deputy from 2002 until last year, when he left to go to work for Attorney General Alan Wilson. Mr. Hubbard oversaw the attorney general’s criminal division and was being prepared to succeed Chief Deputy Attorney General John McIntosh.
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Candice Lively says the association with Mr. Myers is enough to disqualify Mr. Hubbard from being elected solicitor now that the solicitor is finally stepping aside in the face of a DUI charge and a state law that forces him — at age 72 — to retire next year anyway. And Ms. Lively makes a strong case for herself and for a clean break from the Donnie Myers brand of justice.
Ms. Lively worked for five years in the Horry County solicitor’s office before moving back home to the Midlands in 2012 to work at the USC Children’s Law center, where she teaches prosecutors how to handle complex cases involving child victims. She also worked in private practice before joining the solicitor’s office. She seems to be quite qualified to serve as 11th Circuit solicitor. Best qualified? Maybe not. But certainly qualified.
What she most certainly has is an outside perspective, so there’s little danger that she will fall into the “because we’ve always done it that way” trap. That is dangerous anytime the same person has been in charge for 40 years, and especially dangerous when there are problems with the way that person has done things.
So she would be the obvious choice if Mr. Hubbard seemed to embrace Mr. Myers’ style. But he doesn’t.
Mr. Hubbard doesn’t speak ill of his former boss, but he does acknowledge that there have been problems in the office. He does note that he does not share Mr. Myers’ “old-school style of doing things.” And he makes a convincing case that he would represent a clean break.
His plans for cutting the backlog of untried cases and refocusing the office to concentrate on the most important crimes are much better thought out than those of either Ms. Lively or the third candidate in the race, Larry Wedekind. And Mr. Hubbard makes the fair point that since he took over as second in command, we haven’t seen the problems with major cases that were too common before that.
Mr. Hubbard also seems to have the deepest appreciation of the three of the moral duty of a prosecutor to seek justice regardless of public opinion, and to seek justice even when that means losing a case. As he put it, “A prosecutor’s job is to do the right thing and to do it for the right reason.” After 40 years of a win-at-any-cost solicitor, the people in Lexington, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties deserve a prosecutor who is deeply committed to putting justice first, always, and who has the experience and expertise to deliver that justice in a steady, reliable way.
Rick Hubbard would be that solicitor, and we are proud to endorse him in Tuesday’s Republican primary.