Crime & Courts

Indicted Sen. Courson battles special prosecutor Pascoe with motion to toss charges

A lawyer for suspended Richland County senator John Courson filed a surprise motion Thursday in his ongoing criminal case, asking that the charges Courson faces be thrown out.

The indictments charging the longtime senator with misconduct are “unconstitutionally vague” and violate Courson’s due process rights, wrote Rose Mary Parham in a 21-page motion filed with the state grand jury.

Although Courson was indicted in March by special prosecutor David Pascoe and a state grand jury on a common law charge of misconduct in office, Parham wrote “there is no common law offense of misconduct in office,” and therefore the charge must be dismissed.

“The common law charge with the supposed penalty of up to 10 years in jail is what prevents Sen. Courson from continuing to serve his constituents,” Parham said in a press release.

Courson 72, who has served since 1985, faces charges of converting campaign funds for personal use and misconduct in office. He says he is innocent but has been suspended from the Senate, as is required by state law.

The indictments in the case say Courson illegally received money from his political consultant, Richard Quinn and Associates, which Quinn gave back to Courson for his personal use. After Courson paid $247,829 over six years from his campaign account to Quinn for campaign expenses, Quinn issued Courson $132,802 in checks that Courson quickly cashed for his personal use.

Reached late Thursday, Pascoe said, “I have no comment on the merits of Mr. Courson’s motion. The defense has asked for a speedy trial, which I welcome, and I look forward to the setting of a trial date as soon as possible where we can resolve these issues.”