GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Initial briefs have been filed in the appeal of former Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis. A year ago, Lewis was convicted of misconduct of a public officer for misusing his office and county resources to pursue an affair with an employee.
In May, Lewis’ attorney Rauch Wise filed a brief arguing that the law under which Lewis was convicted is too vague. In September, the state filed their response, arguing the conviction should stand.
Lewis was sentenced to a year in prison, and less than three weeks into his sentence, he was released on bond. The judge said by the time the appeal was decided, Lewis would have served his full sentence.
The initial brief submitted by Wise states, “the statute under which William D. Lewis was convicted provides, ‘Any public officer whose authority is limited to a single election or judicial district who is guilty of any official misconduct, habitual negligence, habitual drunkenness, corruption, fraud, or oppression shall be liable to indictment…'”
Wise argued that this law is too broad, making it an unconstitutional violation of due process.
He wrote, “under such a vague concept as ‘misconduct in office,’ ‘corruption,’ ‘oppression,’ ‘fraud,’ or ‘habitually negligent,'” the act committed does not even have to be a criminal act to break the law. He argued that everyone’s definition of ‘misconduct in office’ would not be the same.
The state responded in a 55-page brief filed last month. Government attorneys, including South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, said the statute was clearly applicable to Lewis’ conduct.
They also argued that it is not too broad and dosen’t apply to the private conduct of public officers.
The state said that whether the law is constitutional was never decided upon by a lower court judge, so the issue shouldn’t be addressed in an appeal.
The Attorney General’s office declined to comment on a pending appeal. Wise did not respond to a request for comment.
As for the next steps in the appeals process, according to a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, all of the initial briefs have been filed in the case. Based on their calculations, the next filing on Lewis’ behalf is due in November, then each side has twenty days to file their final briefs. After that, it will be ready for the South Carolina Supreme Court to hear.