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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

DOI vs. Elliot A. Harris

South Carolina Department of Insurance

South Carolina Department of Insurance

Elliot A. Harris




I. Introduction

The South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI) seeks to revoke the resident insurance agent’s license of Elliot A. Harris (Harris) on the ground that S.C. Code Ann § 38-43-130 authorizes such a revocation if the agent has committed a crime involving moral turpitude. After reviewing the evidence submitted and applying the applicable law, Harris’ license is revoked.

II. Analysis

A. Findings of Fact:

I find, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following facts:

Harris and his fiancee hired Frederick Mark Peter (Peter) to construct a residence. However, Harris and his fiancee concluded that Peter was not constructing the house in compliance with agreed upon specifications.

On July 17, 2001, Harris met Peter at the construction site. A heated verbal exchange escalated into a physical attack in which Harris struck Peter with a board. In addition, Harris fired at least one and perhaps as many as three gunshots in an attempt to “scare” Peter who was fleeing the scene.

As a result, on July 21, 2001, an arrest warrant was issued charging Harris with the crime of assault with intent to kill. On March 19, 2003, Harris entered a guilty plea to the charge and received a seven year sentence, suspended upon service of 91 days followed by four years of probation.

B. Conclusions of Law

Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact, I conclude the following as a matter of law:

The applicable provisions of S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43-130 read as follows:

The director or his designee may revoke or suspend an agent's license after ten days' notice or refuse to reissue a license when it appears that an agent has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, . . . (emphasis added).

For purposes of this section, "convicted" includes a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, and the record of conviction, or a copy of it, certified by the clerk of court or by the judge in whose court the conviction occurred is conclusive evidence of the conviction.

Moral turpitude is "an act of baseness, evilness, or depravity in the private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man or society in general, contrary to the customary and accepted rule of right and duty between man and man." State v. Perry, 294 S.C. 311, 364 S.E.2d 201 (1988). In light of that definition, Harris’ guilty plea to the crime of assault with intent to kill is a conviction involving moral turpitude. See State v. Spinks, 260 S.C. 404, 196 S.E.2d 313, 410 (1973) (Bussey, J., dissenting) (“[A]ssault with intent to kill . . . [is an] offense[ ] involving moral turpitude.”). See also, Jamison v. Howard, 275 S.C. 344, 271 S.E.2d 116 (1980) (“assault and battery with intent to kill [is] a crime involving moral turpitude.”).

Accordingly, Harris has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Therefore, either a revocation or a suspension is proper under S.C. Code Ann § 38-43-130.

In this case, a revocation is proper. Harris’ actions involved not only a physical attack but also the discharge of a firearm. Moreover, the entire incident resulted from a disagreement stemming from a business transaction. Harris’ means of handling the disagreement are inconsistent with the actions required of licensed insurance agents who must deal with the pubic on a regular basis in a business context. Thus, the revocation sought by the DOI is warranted.

III. Order

Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the Department of Insurance shall revoke the resident insurance agent’s license of Elliot A. Harris.




Administrative Law Judge

Dated: October 17, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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