CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — An investigation by The Post and Courier and ProPublica found that the South Carolina magistrate court system is a breeding ground for untrained judges, corruption and other abuse.
It says South Carolina doesn’t require magistrates to have law degrees. It says magistrates are selected by political appointment and require fewer hours of training than the state requires of barbers and nail salon technicians. Nearly 75% of the state’s magistrates lack a legal degree and couldn’t represent someone in court.
The outlets’ investigation found instances of serious judicial misconduct or errors in 30 of the state’s 46 counties. Additionally, a state law loophole has allowed magistrates to stay on the bench after their terms expired. One such magistrate still holds her role two decades after her four-year term ended.