June 30, 2009
CLE-Related Judicial Misconduct
A South Carolina magistrate judge was sanctioned for misconduct relaing to fulfilling his CLE obligations. The South Carolina Supreme Court described the misconduct as follows:
In this judicial disciplinary case, respondent Magistrate Judge...admits altering a court order and a letter from the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization (hereinafter “CLE Commission”). The record supports the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct (hereinafter “the panel”), and we retroactively suspend respondent.
Respondent failed to comply with Rule 510, SCACR and report his CLE hours for 2006-07 timely. Therefore, this Court suspended respondent. Subsequently, respondent complied with Rule 510. Thus, the CLE Commission issued respondent a letter finding him in compliance and instructing him to contact this Court to be reinstated. This Court then reinstated respondent by court order, and the court order specifically stated the reinstatement was not retroactive.
Respondent then retook the bench. While conducting bond court, respondent was asked to submit evidence of his reinstatement to the county administrator. Respondent faxed copies of the CLE Commission’s letter finding him in compliance and this Court’s order reinstating respondent. The version of the letter and this Court’s order sent by respondent were altered. Specifically, respondent removed the references that his reinstatement was not retroactive. Respondent explains the alterations of these documents as an innocent attempt to obscure notes he made on the documents as he did not have time to obtain the originals. Respondent admits he failed to notify the county administrator of the papers’ alterations.
The magistrate has been on interim suspension since October 12, 2007 and the court held that the served suspension was sufficient under the circumstances as a sanction. (Mike Frisch)
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