News on the Discipline Front

In case you missed it, here are the factual findings in the recent reprimand of a former state court magistrate judge, who was recently disciplined by the South Carolina Supreme Court for the following:

  • He set a criminal defendant’s bond at $10 and then he posted bond on the defendant’s behalf.  So the judge was on the bond form as both judge and the surety.
  • He signed off on an agreement between a property damage victim and a defendant whereby the victim agreed to drop criminal charges based on the payment of restitution.  This led defendant to believe the matter was over and done.  However, this agreement was not binding on the prosecution and the defendant was later arrested for failure to appear at his court date.
  • He directed a clerk to change the disposition code on a case, which was tried by a different judge, from guilty to not guilty.
  • When a defendant was mistakenly transported from the jail to the court house on the wrong day, he disposed of the case by letting the defendant plead guilty and then sentencing the defendant.  The law, however, requires that the victim  be notified of the hearing and provides the right for the victim to be present for the hearing.
  • He declined to grant a restraining order against a police officer because he incorrectly applied the reasonable doubt standard.  In announcing his decision denying the request. he also commented on the serious negative effect such an order could have on the officer’s career.
For these issues, he was publicly reprimanded by the Court.  However, the magistrate, who was not a member of the bar, has since retired from the bench. He was barred from seeking a future judgeship as part of the agreement.

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