We do not yet know the result of an effort to remove state Attorney General Alan Wilson from a grand jury probe of an ethics complaint against House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.
But at least observers had the opportunity to hear the competing arguments in a public court hearing on Friday. Mr. Harrell's attorneys had sought to have the matter considered in private.
But Judge Casey Manning properly gave the request for a closed session short shrift, as he moved directly into an open hearing on whether Mr. Wilson would be allowed to serve as chief prosecutor in the state grand jury investigation.
At issue was Mr. Wilson's meeting with one of Mr. Harrell's staffers over a pending piece of legislation last year.
Based on news reports of the hearing, it's hard to see why Mr. Wilson should be expected to step aside in the high-profile case. A ruling is expected next week.
The request for a closed hearing was challenged by the 109 newspapers comprising the S.C. Press Association (including The Post and Courier), as well as two television stations.
SCPA attorney Jay Bender argued that there was a compelling interest in keeping apprised of Speaker Harrell's case "so that the public may have confidence that 'justice was done.' "
Friday's open hearing served the public's right to know and was a compelling argument for judicial transparency.
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