On Monday, July 10, 2023, a complaint letter has been sent to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of South Carolina accusing Casey Manning, former Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, of judicial misconduct for his role in a controversial plea deal involving convicted murderer Jeroid Price.
The complaint, filed by Carl Smalls Sr. and Lillie Smalls, the parents of the late Carl Smalls Jr., alleges that Manning engaged in an unlawful, secret plea agreement on his last day before retirement that improperly reduced Price’s sentence. Price was originally convicted of murdering Smalls Jr. and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Price was found guilty in 2003 for killing Carl Smalls Jr. during a shooting at a Columbia nightclub a year prior. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
According to the complaint, Manning signed an order reducing Price’s sentence despite not having the legal authority to do so. The deal was allegedly orchestrated by Price’s defense attorney Todd Rutherford and Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gibson. However, Manning is accused of lack of fidelity to the law and abusing his authority by signing off on the improper order.
The Smalls argue that as the family of the victim, they had a constitutional right to be informed of any proceedings related to Price’s case. However, the plea deal was allegedly done in secret without notifying the victim’s family.
In addition to accusations of judicial misconduct, the complaint alleges Manning signed the deal order on his last day to avoid scrutiny and then had the order immediately sealed. The Smalls contend Manning knew the sentence reduction was unlawful but pushed it through anyway.
Manning retired the same day the order was signed, preventing any oversight or challenge of his actions while still on the bench. The Smalls believe this was a blatant disregard for judicial ethics and the law.
While Rutherford and Gibson are also implicated in the complaint, Manning as the presiding judge is accused of the most egregious abuse of power by enabling the improper deal. The Smalls are demanding an investigation of Manning’s judicial record and for him to be “reprimanded to the highest degree possible for a retired judge” and “should never be allowed in a courtroom as an arbiter of the law.”
A copy of the complaint letter can be found here.