Once-powerful ex-SC Rep. Harrison can ‘never’ practice law again, high court rules

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Jim Harrison, a once-influential lawmaker who over his years in office accepted nearly $900,000 in secret payments from an influential consulting firm, will never practice law again, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Harrison, 70, “will not be considered for admission or reinstatement to the practice of law or for any limited practice of law in South Carolina,” said a terse Supreme Court order issued Thursday and signed by all five justices.

The order said that Harrison, a Richland County Republican who was once one of the General Assembly’s most powerful lawmakers, had agreed to resign his law license forever instead of trying to fight ongoing disciplinary proceedings against him. The Supreme Court in January upheld his 2018 perjury and misconduct criminal convictions.

Harrison “acknowledges that Disciplinary Counsel can prove the allegations against him and states he does not desire to contest or defend against those allegations,” the high court’s order said.

Harrison’s “resignation shall be permanent” and can “never again” apply for a law license, the high court said.

He is currently serving an 18-month sentence in the state Department of Corrections. Harrison’s projected release date is April 2021, but he is eligible for parole this October, according to the state agency.

For years, Harrison was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a key committee which controls the flow of about half of all bills in the House. As chairman, Harrison had substantial power to kill or advance any bill flowing through the committee.

The firm Harrison worked for, Richard Quinn & Associates, had clients with business before the Legislature, and Harrison secretly helped those clients with issues they had an interest in before the General Assembly, according to evidence at his 2018 trial.

At his trial, Harrison’s former colleagues in the House said they did not know Harrison was an employee of the Quinn firm and that he was being paid some $85,000 a year secretly by the firm.

This story will be updated.

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