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Goodbye and good riddance to Judge Lee

A Column by the Editor
web posted December 12, 2008
COLUMN – Today is Friday and a very fortunate day for the Judicial System in Edgefield County. Circuit Court Judge Renee Alison Lee will be leaving the Historical Edgefield County Courthouse today and returning to Richland County, and not a moment too soon. As I observed the proceedings of General Sessions Court this week I could not help but feel the pain of law enforcement as they watched all their hard work to put criminals behind bars being dashed right before their eyes by Judge “Easy” Lee, as she easily let countless criminals remain on our streets to rob, plunder, and continue selling drugs to our youths.

In addition to ignoring recommendations from the Solicitors Office of criminals pleading guilty, she constantly handed out probation as if it was candy canes at a Christmas party. Which it was for the criminal element of our society. As the word spread, prisoners in the county jail were lining up to receive their get out of jail free candy cane too. And they did, I think the probation officer who had to write up all the paperwork may need physical therapy on her right hand.

Not only did those in the jail start lining up for Judge “Easy” Lee, but a number of those who were not even scheduled to show up until the February term of court wanted to plead guilty and be home in time for supper. It was a disgraceful week, the most irresponsible and outrageous term I have every witnessed in my many years of attending criminal court.

But in addition to basically neutering the Solicitor’s Office, which it seemed to me she obviously enjoyed doing, her repeated statements from the bench such as “I’m in charge here” and “I’m in control” made me begin to question her mental stability more than her lack of moral and ethical standards.

A drug dealer with not one, but four charges of distribution including distribution of crack cocaine in the proximity of a school is guaranteed to a sentence on a plea deal of three to four years in prison when looking at the past record of sentencing sheets in our local court. Albert Davis, however, was given a suspended five-year sentence and three years of probation on Tuesday. Just in time for his 23rd birthday on Wednesday. Not to make things worse, but Mr. Davis was in court in June for his second DUI conviction and was on probation at the time of his arrest for the drug charges.

How the heck do you get placed on probation, get arrested for selling crack cocaine in the proximity of a school while on probation, have additional charges added which violates the probation, and get probation in court? Easy Lee, that’s how. And she did it more than once this week.

The most absurd aspect of Easy Lee’s handling of this term of General Sessions Court is usurping power delineated in law to the Solicitor’s Office. In an astonishing move Judge Lee basically took control of the docket and called a case that the Solicitor’s Office was not prepared to bring to trial during this term. The Assistant Solicitor told Judge Lee he was not calling to the case to be told, “Yes you are,” by Judge Lee. I’ve never seen a case called by a sitting judge; the Solicitor has control of the docket, not the judge. Maybe Judge Lee thinks she’s a judge in Georgia.

It was such a devastating blow against justice, what I felt was a direct power play just to impress upon the solicitors of who really was “in charge”, that the supervising solicitor had to dismiss the charges against the defendant rather than go to trial with no witnesses and no preparation and set the man free and never be able to prosecute the charges again.

Fortunately the Solicitor’s Office can bring the case back to a grand jury after the first of the year and seek another indictment on the charges so a real judge can hear the case. The fact of the matter is that it never should have happened, legally, morally, or ethically.

On behalf of those who care about our county and fully support our local law enforcement, assistant solicitors, and the hard work they put in to trying to rid us of the vermin that preys upon our innocent children and citizens - good riddance Judge Renee Alison Lee.

I hope that our Legislators who appointed this sorry excuse of a judge will pull every recording, every sentencing sheet, every document, and review everything this woman did in Edgefield County during this term of court. As far as I am concerned, she should be removed from the bench yesterday. I fully intend to inform our legislative delegation of that opinion. 

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