Harshly worded letter from SC trooper raises concern

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A harshly worded letter written by a South Carolina state trooper is raising concerns with the state Highway Patrol.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the letter after a man was stopped for reckless driving in York County.  That driver did not want to talk about the incident, or have his name used in this story.

The letter is from South Carolina Trooper D.P. Boulware of York County to the offender's lawyer.  The lawyer's name has also been marked out on the letter, so Eyewitness News was not able to contact the attorney for comment.

Here's what the letter says:

"Please advise your client that he has until the 16th of March to enter a guilty plea to the pending charge.  If there is no plea entered by this date, I will request jail time in lieu of a fine. Even if a guilty plea is entered after this date I will still request from Judge Grayson that your client spend time in jail as opposed to a fine.    This is a case of your client wasting the time of both myself and the court presiding.  I would never oppose anyone who questions their guilt requesting the verdict of a jury. However, this is an obvious attempt by your client to avoid responsibility for an offense of which he knows he is guilty.  A copy of this letter will be on file with the presiding court."

Eyewitness News brought that letter to the attention of commanders at the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

"I can tell you that's not what we expect from our troopers," said spokesman Bryan McDougald.   "That letter was worded harshly, and strongly."

In South Carolina, state troopers don't just write tickets and stop drunk and reckless drivers.  They also act as lawyers, and must prosecute their own cases in court.

Cases are often delayed or repeatedly continued for many reasons.   McDougald said sometimes that's frustrating to keep showing up for court and not being able to present a case. Still, he said that doesn't mean a trooper's attitude can change.

"If we've been to court 25 times this year, it should be no different than if it's the first time.  Even it's the same person because that's their day in court.  They have a right to a fair trial."

McDougald said the letter is being sent up the chain of command for a review.  It's not clear if any action will be taken, but Channel 9 learned that Trooper Boulware remains on active duty while the Highway Patrol investigates.