Raniya Wright Death Case: Sen. Bright Matthews identified as Substitute Teacher’s Attorney

Colleton County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office has revealed that Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews represents the substitute teacher who was in the classroom when Raniya Wright was involved in a “slap fight.” 

Nearly a month ago, Sen. Bright-Matthews (D) Walterboro, surprisingly gave details that were merely speculation, at the time, during a senate meeting on April 2. 

“Let me tell you what I know from my conversations with all the parties involved in the incident,” Bright-Matthews said on April 2. “Ive heard a lot of people say oh they were kicking her, they ganged her. None of that, that’s so far from the truth. Banging of the head, none of that. Imagine what the substitute teacher is feeling.” 

While speaking on the senate floor, Bright-Matthews made many references to the substitute teacher. 

“The substitute teacher intervened,” she said.

While reading through the 11-page investigative report that was provided by CCSO, News 2’s Deanne Roberts found Bright-Matthews listed as the substitute teacher’s lawyer. Bright-Matthews also practices law at her firm, Bright-Matthews Law Firm, LLC located in Walterboro, S.C. The Sheriff’s office confirmed twice that Bright-Matthews currently represents the substitute teacher.

“Senator Margie Bright has officially told authorities she is representing the substitute teacher by word of mouth,” the sheriff’s office said.

Bright-Matthews denies that she represents the substitute teacher, or anyone involved in the case.

News 2’s Deanne Roberts sat down with Legal Attorney, Ryan Schwartz, to find out if someone can legally use their political position to share their client’s case while releasing sensitive case information.

“The ethics rules states as long as your client gives you informed consent, you can discuss their case,” Schwartz said.

The ethics rule Schwartz is referring to is rule 1.6: confidentiality of information. If the attorney does not have permission from their client, it’s a different story.

“If they do not have permission, she [substitute teacher] could file a grievance and she [Bright-Matthews] could be in trouble with the South Carolina Bar,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz believes Bright-Matthews was speaking for her client and ultimately trying her case in the media. Although that is legal with her client’s permission, the question of it was morally just or not remains.

“I don’t know if I would have done it on the senate floor,” Schwartz said. “Maybe held a press conference, but to each its own and that’s the strategy she went with and obviously she got a lot of attention for it.”

News 2’s Deanne Roberts tried to set up an on-camera or phone interview with Bright-Matthews for a week, but she never agreed to do an interview. Wednesday, News 2 tried reaching out to Bright-Matthews again to allow her to share her story. She did not answer the phone, but texted instead. She denied representing the substitute teacher through text.

“Once again, I am not representing anyone involved in the incident. That includes the substitute,” Bright- Matthews said.

News 2 asked if there was ever a point where she represented the substitute. She didn’t answer the question, but instead referred News 2 to speak to someone else.

“Call Antquan Seawright to further inquire about any further information or media contact,” Bright-Matthews said.  

Nearly two weeks ago, Raniya’s mother, Ashley Wright, had a message for the senator.

“Margie Bright,” Ashley said. “I don’t understand her back and forth thing she has going on here. I think it’s a twist up. When my daughter passed away, she was the first lawyer who wanted to take the case.”

News 2 has not been able to confirm Ashley Wright’s comments being that Bright-Matthews has not answered any questions. News 2 has not been able to get in contact with Seawright, the person Bright-Matthews referred news 2 to speak with. 

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