Monday, January 23, 2012
A magistrate may not appoint as constable the spouse of the chief animal control officer because the appointment would require his recusal in animal control cases, according to an opinion of the South Carolina Advisory Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct:
The judge not only has the power to appoint a constable, he or she has the power to remove the constable prior to the expiration of the constable’s two-year term of office. The constable also must, by law, execute process for the magistrate’s court and can be fined or imprisoned for failure to do so. Thus, the magistrate has a certain amount of control over the constable. In turn, in situations where the constable’s spouse or his/her employees regularly appear before the court, the appearance of impropriety could be created or the magistrate’s partiality could be questioned. Therefore, the magistrate should not appoint as constable the spouse of the Chief Enforcement Animal Control Officer.