A drunken driving trial for State Rep. Ted Vick (D-Chesterfield) has been delayed for another month, after the presiding judge said she was concerned there may not be enough impartial jurors to guarantee a fair trial.
The State newspaper reports that Columbia Municipal Court judge Dana Turner made the decision Wednesday after learning that several jurors had discussed the case before the hearing began. The paper reported that Turner then asked members of the jury pool if any of them had heard about Vick’s case. Several members raised their hands. After meeting with attorneys, Turner said she could not guarantee a fair trial and postponed the hearing until later date.
Vick was arrested in May 2012 shortly after leaving a Columbia bar district. According to a police report, an officer pulled Vick over after observing him driving above the speed limit. After pulling the legislator over, the officer said he smelled the strong odor of alcohol and asked Vick to exit the vehicle. The officer said Vick appeared to be unsteady on his feet and swayed while walking. He was arrested after refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.
Vick was not at Wednesday’s hearing. His attorney Todd Rutherford (a fellow legislator who is also the House Minority Leader) said Vick was training with the S.C. Army National Guard. Vick is a colonel with the Guard who served in Afghanistan.
He was also arrested in a separate May 14 incident after a state Bureau of Protective Services officer said he saw the lawmaker stumbling in the State House parking garage before getting into his truck and running into a traffic cone. That case was delayed in October after a judge ruled attorneys from the state Department of Public Safety had no authority to prosecute the case. DPS has said it will appeal that ruling.