Judge refuses to quash motion for Bill McAbee
In a solid victory for the County Thursday afternoon, Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox declined to quash the County’s subpoena to depose former County Councilman Bill McAbee.
McAbee and his attorney Chuck Allen sought to have the subpoena quashed, thereby allowing McAbee to avoid deposition concerning his role in several real estate transactions he conducted with the County while on the Council. The matter is related to the County’s lawsuit against Joey Preston and its efforts to retrieve the $1.2 million buyout Preston received in November of 2008.
Allen argued that the matter had already been mitigated. “The County has subpoenaed my client with a verbatim duplicate of the subpoena he answered in this court. Some of the things they ask are bizarre,” said Allen.
Allen also argued that should the deposition go forward, McAbee was entitled to be deposed in the county of his residence instead of Greenville as the subpoena indicated. Ted Gentry, the County’s attorney in the matter corrected Allen, citing the proper statute which states that the deponent can be deposed within fifty miles of his home county. Maddox concurred.
Judge Maddox ruled that, despite McAbee having been put on the stand at the earlier hearing, and having denied having the information sought in twenty six of the County’s queries, the County’s attorneys did have the right to pursue additional information.
“The earlier ruling not to find Mr. McAbee in contempt of court wasn’t meant to be closure to the issue. I could either find him in contempt at that hearing, or force him to respond under oath. I think I chose the most aggressive path. But go ahead and have him respond to the subpoena,” Maddox instructed Allen.
McAbee was on the Council in 2008 when he and his associate Amy Plummer handled some real estate transactions between the company Plummer and McAbee worked for and the County. In at least one instance, McAbee received a commission. The County contends that those transactions were directed McAbee and Plummer’s way as a means of securing McAbee’s cooperation in the buyout of Preston later that year.
In another significant development, Judge Maddox effectively removed himself from the case, saying that budgetary issues in court administration were going to result in more travel for judges, including himself. He instructed the various attorneys to get together and seek a complex case designation for the case at hand. That designation assigns the case to a specific judge who will then hear all motions and other actions related to that case.
“It has just been luck that I have heard he motions in this case each time, if you want to call it luck. But I am going to be traveling a great deal in the coming months and Judge McIntosh recused himself from this case. So I will speak to Court Administration in Columbia and ask them to assign a judge. That will be a judge of their choice. Thereafter, the case will follow the judge – wherever he may be hearing cases at any given time.”