Criminal defense attorney works to ensure fair trials

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Charles Grose gets mentioned in a lot of South Carolina news articles — partly because he’s made a name for himself as a top criminal defense attorney in the state, but also because most of his cases lend themselves to attention-grabbing, if not grim, headlines.

A quick scan of stories about Grose turns up results such as “mall shooting suspects get bond,” “former exotic dancer convicted of murder,” and “man found not guilty of criminal sexual conduct.”

Grose, who is based in Greenwood but travels across the state for trials, has always veered toward the accused versus the accuser. He got his start in law working on post-conviction relief cases after graduating from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He went on to be a public defender in Orangeburg and later led the public defender’s office in Greenwood for nine years.

Although he’s now had his own private practice for about seven years, he still primarily represents defendants accused of often heinous crimes.

“Even when somebody’s charged with a serious crime, they have the right to have a lawyer while going through the system,” Grose said. “In the last 20 years, we’ve come a long way in South Carolina in improving the quality of representation in the criminal justice system.”

Grose’s cases are rarely cut and dried — beyond the question of guilt, he has a knack for zeroing in on procedural issues within the judicial system — issues that could influence the outcome of trials.

Serving as a defense attorney in a murder trial in Abbeville last year, Grose got into a heated exchange with an investigator from the State Law Enforcement Division about using misleading information as an interrogation technique, the Index-Journal reported. Grose later called out the prosecution for treating the same investigator as an expert witness without going through the procedures to enter him as one.

Unlike when he worked as a public defender, Grose can be selective about which cases he decides to take on as a private attorney, but often his decision comes down to which cases he thinks his skills are best suited for.

“I usually want to know what somebody’s charged with, know what their side of the story is, and if it’s something that I think I can help them with; that’s really the biggest criteria,” Grose said. “Part of it comes down to what situation they’re in — do I think I have the right set of experiences to be able to help them?”

And Grose readily admits he can’t always help everyone — his successes and his failures, just like with any attorney, come in mixed bags.

“It can be real disappointing when somebody gets convicted of a serious crime and you believe in their innocence,” Grose said.

His primary goal is to give everyone a fair trial.

“Sometimes it’s not about whether somebody is guilty or not guilty, because there are some people who do make mistakes, but the question is, how does the justice system respond to that, and is it somebody that needs to get a criminal record or go to prison?” Grose said. “All of us are a lot more than the worst mistake that we’ve ever made in our lives. Sometimes it’s about finding a way to communicate that to the judges.”

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