Dave Jolliff withdraws his name for Murrells Inlet magistrate judge position

After months of criticism, Dave Jolliff has withdrawn his name from consideration for Murrells Inlet magistrate judge.

Jolliff informed S.C. Sen. Ray Cleary, who had selected him as the nominee on Friday that he no longer wanted to be a candidate.

In a letter sent by Jolliff's attorney David DuRant, Jolliff said: "I refuse to have my character and reputation tarnished as a pawn by those who are using me as a political football."

Jolliff's nomination drew the ire of many in the Murrells Inlet community, especially after a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Jolliff had been suspended by the Horry County Police Department for two alcohol-related incidents while employed there.

Neither Cleary nor Jolliff could be reached for comment Friday.

Cleary hired an independent investigator to look into Jolliff's background and the results of that investigation were released earlier this week.

The report said that the incidents were not viewed by the department as serious enough to hold Jolliff back from advancement.

One incident occurred in October 2006 when Jolliff was accused of urinating on a car at a local bar and wrecking his own vehicle after leaving that establishment. The other was in August 1998, when Jolliff used a marked county vehicle to go to a local bar and left it there overnight with unsecured firearms inside.

The report said had these incidents or anything aboutJolliff's character or work been under question he would not have been advanced and that based on Jolliff's background he would make "an excellent magistrate."

On Thursday, things heated up even more.

Members of the Murrells Inlet community, including former Georgetown County Councilman Tom Swatzel and President of Preserve Murrells Inlet Bill Chandler released a statement calling on Gov. Nikki Haley to reject Jolliff as a nominee.

The statement said Cleary's nomination "goes against the overwhelming community opposition to the nomination" and calls on Haley to "swiftly reject this nomination and to insist on a nominee for magistrate who exhibits good judgment, has judicial temperament, and is highly respected in the Murrells Inlet community."

DuRant said that ultimately, he thinks Jolliff "washed his hands of the whole thing."

"He realized there wasn't anything he could do to make those folks happy," the lawyer said.

"He just decided it was in everybody's best interest" to withdraw his name and "get somebody that everybody agrees with."

In the letter withdrawing his name, Jolliff said he first submitted his name to Cleary "out of my conviction that I would bring extensive experience to the residents of Murrells Inlet as their new magistrate."

He said he "never considered the job to be "political" in nature," and that he now "painfully understand(s) what it means to be the victim of the politics of personal destruction. I am also embarrassed and seriously considered that an unhealthy culture of politics, power and favoritism exists in Horry County law enforcement and contributed greatly to this situation."

Chandler said he was "speechless that Jolliff had withdrawn his name.

"I'm glad he did it," Chandler said. "There was a mismatch there in most people's mind here in the inlet. That's the best thing that could have happened."

Swatzel said he "did not expect that."

He said he hopes that Cleary now involves more people in the Murrells Inlet community in the process.

"I think having more people involved in the process would result in a lot more public confidence in whoever is selected for the nomination," Swatzel said. "It'll be interesting to see where it goes from this point forward."