South Carolina's feudal magistrate system may take a modest step toward modernization

Propublica's blockbuster report on the magistrate judges in South Carolina revealed a system of patronage, cronies, and gross miscarriages of justice, with judges appointed on the say-so of a single state senator, without regard to whether they had any legal experience (some judges took the bench after working construction, or as pharmacists, or as underwear distributors), and without any vetting of their ethical lapses (some judges were disgraced lawyers who stole from clients, or retired lawmakers notorious for their racism). Read the rest

Meet the Krazy Klown Kavalcade of racists, homophobes, islamophobes and transphobes serving as appointed South Carolina magistrates

South Carolina's system of appointed magistrates allows the state senate to appoint "judges" with no legal training, some of whom cannot pass a basic competency test on the first try, to hear over 800,000 cases a year; the magistrates are appointed and re-appointed without a background check (there's also a loophole that let some judges escape even that reappointment hearing, serving for 20 years without undergoing the process), allowing them to serve even after grave judicial misconduct. Read the rest

South Carolina's magistrate judges are a clown-car of corrupt cronies, but they get to put people in jail

South Carolina's magistrate judge system is a holdover from aristocratic England, where landowners would appoint someone with "common sense" to hear legal cases, without any legal training or oversight -- which is how it works in South Carolina today, where 800,000+ criminal and civil cases are heard by magistrates who are not required to have a background in law, not required to divulge official sanctions for ethical violations, and not overseen in any meaningful way as they fine, jail and censure people who are often not represented by counsel nor permitted to speak in their own defense. Read the rest