May 12, 2008
Magistrate Reprimanded, Suspended Until Retirement
The South Carolina Supreme Court issued a public reprimand and prohibited a magistrate judge from seeking or accepting a future judicial position "without the express permission of the Supreme Court." The court accepted the magistrate judge's offer to retire and placed him on interim suspension until his retirement.
He was found to have proposed and encouraged a clerk to videotape herself engaged in sexual relations with another magistrate and to have used the term "niggers" in a conversation with another clerk referring to men that another clerk was possibly dating. As a result of the second allegation, a clerk wrote a letter to the NAACP, which had resulted in adverse publicity for the judge and his magistrate's office. Other charges were not sustained.
Initially, an investigative panel had dismissed the charges. The magistrate advised his fellow magistrates that he had been cleared and that he hads passed a polygraph test (the results of which were later determined to be inaccurate). the complaining clerks were fired by a vote of the county magistrates. However:
After the meeting on January 5, 2004, several magistrates talked amongst themselves and reported having misgivings about the actions taken. It was discussed that respondent may not have accurately described the circumstances surrounding the polygraph test. Furthermore, on January 6, 2004, a state senator sent a letter to the chief magistrate judge indicating his understanding that the reasons given for the magistrates’ actions were not justified, and he encouraged the court to take immediate action to reinstate the three employees. The magistrates met again on January 8, 2004, and voted to reinstate all of the employees.
The panel that heard these allegations found the hearing testimony of the magistrate "was not credible or believable." (Mike Frisch)
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