Crime & Courts

Will ex-SC Rep. Harrison go to prison Friday? Judge to decide

‘I didn’t need Richard Quinn’s money,’ Jim Harrison said from the witness stand

Ex SC State Rep. Jim Harrison explains his innocence during a statement he made to the jury during his trial on public corruption and misconduct in office.
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Ex SC State Rep. Jim Harrison explains his innocence during a statement he made to the jury during his trial on public corruption and misconduct in office.

Former state Rep. Jim Harrison, a Columbia Republican, is to report to state prison Friday to begin serving an 18-month sentence.

But whether Harrison, convicted last month of misconduct and perjury, goes to prison is in the hands of Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen, who presided over his five-day jury trial in Richland County.

Lawyers for Harrison, 67, have asked Mullen to grant an appeal bond — a seldom-used legal mechanism that would allow Harrison to stay out of prison until his case is appealed up the ladder to the S.C. Supreme Court, if necessary.

“We are waiting for her ruling on that,” Reggie Lloyd, one of Harrison’s lawyers, said Tuesday.

Special prosecutor David Pascoe is opposing Harrison’s motion to stay free until his appeals run their course, which could take years.

“There is no likelihood defendant’s convictions will be overturned on appeal,” Pascoe wrote in a motion filed earlier this month.

On Nov. 20, Mullen denied several defense motions to overturn Harrison’s convictions, saying there was ample evidence to support the verdicts against him.

If he reports to prison, Harrison would be the first current or former member of the S.C. General Assembly sent to prison in connection with a state grand jury investigation into State House corruption.

Harrison, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, retired from the Legislature in 2012.

However, prosecutors charged that, between 1999 and 2012, Harrison failed to report roughly $900,000 in income that he secretly was paid by the Richard Quinn & Associates consulting firm, which represented corporate clients with business before the Legislature.

Pascoe’s investigation has resulted in four other legislators pleading guilty to misconduct and resigning, rather than standing trial. Another, former state Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Horry, is awaiting trial on misconduct and perjury charges.

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