Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Growing Body Of COVID Anger Discipline Law

A magistrate has been suspended for six months with anger management counseling by the South Carolina Supreme Court 

On May 14, 2020, the Chief Magistrate for Florence County scheduled a meeting with the magistrates and clerks to discuss the Covid-19 safety plan for re-opening magistrates' courts to the public in accordance with this Court's April 30, 2020 Order concerning Statewide Evictions and Foreclosures. During the meeting, Respondent began asking questions repeatedly, speaking in a loud voice and challenging the Chief Magistrate's Covid-19 safety plan for reopening. As the meeting continued, Respondent became visibly agitated, reading aloud portions of the April 30, 2020 Order and challenging the Chief Magistrate's implementation plan. At one point during the meeting another magistrate in attendance told Respondent to follow the Chief Magistrate's direction. Due to Respondent's continued disruptions, the Chief Magistrate apologized to the other meeting attendees and adjourned the meeting prematurely without completing the agenda.

After the meeting concluded, Respondent exited the meeting room and confronted the magistrate who suggested he follow the Chief Magistrate's directions. Respondent expressed his displeasure and told the other magistrate not to disrespect him again. Respondent then returned to the meeting room where the Chief Magistrate had begun to gather her personal belongings. When the Chief Magistrate turned to leave the room, she was startled to see Respondent, who was hitting his hands together and loudly requesting that going forward the Chief Magistrate should show him respect. The Chief Magistrate grew concerned for her physical well-being. The following day, she reported the incident to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Approximately a month later, Respondent told a Florence County clerk that the Chief Magistrate "does not know who she is dealing with and she will regret doingn this," in reference to the complaint submitted to Disciplinary Counsel. Thereafter, Respondent was placed on interim suspension. In re Rivers, S.C. Sup. Ct. Order dated July 10, 2020.

Respondent admitted the misconduct.

Respondent should complete at least fifteen hours of anger management counseling; however, should Respondent's chosen counselor determine that more than fifteen hours of counseling are necessary, Respondent shall complete the number of hours recommended by the counselor.

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


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