Scott's DUI case takes another turn

State Sen. Randy Scott, R-Summerville

Brad Nettles

SUMMERVILLE — The continuing drama of a state senator demanding a trial after spending a night in jail on a DUI charge enters a new chapter.

State Sen. Randy Scott, R-Summerville, who was arrested April 19 and released the next morning on a personal recognizance bond, will face the Spartanburg solicitor's office when he goes before a jury to fight the charges.

Calling in the solicitor's office for a driving under the influence charge is an unprecedented development for Dorchester County that shows the political stakes of the case, according to Scott's attorney, Reese Joye of North Charleston.

"I've probably handled thousands of cases, and I've never seen it before," Joye said.

Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash said he asked 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe to handle the case because of the volatile nature of the charges on both sides.

"It goes back to ensuring everybody gets a fair trial," Nash said Wednesday.

Scott, a longtime critic of Nash, is claiming that the arrest was a politically motivated set-up to derail his re-election bid in the Republican primary June 10. Scott is facing Mike Rose for his District 38 Senate seat. The winner of the primary will take office because there is no Democratic opposition.

Pascoe said he recused himself to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest, since he lives in Scott's district. He said he asked 7th Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg to handle the case because of Gowdy's reputation for handling DUI cases. Gov. Mark Sanford recently praised Gowdy for backing the governor's efforts to get DUI reforms passed, a law Sanford signed April 15.

Pascoe, a Democrat, said his decision to call in Gowdy, a Republican, had nothing to do with politics.

"Trey Gowdy doesn't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican," Pascoe said. "All he cares about is justice."

In Spartanburg County, the solicitor's office often assists in DUI trials, especially if an officer's credibility is called into question, Gowdy said. Every DUI trial is important, but this trial won't be treated any differently from any other, he said.

"I'm not going to put anything extra into it because it's a state senator," Gowdy said Wednesday. "It's going to be handled like every other DUI case is handled."

Joye scoffed at the notion that no politics was involved by calling in Gowdy. Gowdy is a likely future candidate for attorney general, and this trial will give him exposure, Joye said.

It also was unprecedented for a judge to turn over a recording from a jail telephone to the media before a trial, Joye said.

Nash gave a recording of a phone call Scott made to his wife from the jail to The Post and Courier after the newspaper requested it under the Freedom of Information Act. Jock Stender, a Mount Pleasant fraud examiner, also requested and received the tapes for his own information, he said Wednesday.

Circuit Judge James Williams granted Joye's motion Friday to order the newspaper and Stender not to publish the recordings until after he considered it. Over the weekend, the tapes were published on two Web sites, and Williams ruled on Tuesday that the newspaper could publish the tapes because they were already public.

"We're not just plowing new ground here," Joye said. "We're making new land."

Neither lawyer could predict when the trial might take place. DUI trials normally take a year to come to court, Joye said. He said he filed a motion for a trial before next month's primary but doubts that will happen now that the solicitor's office is involved.

Reach Dave Munday at 745-5862 or dmunday@postandcourier.com.