Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Department
2017-10-26-01

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

RE:  Magistrate Court Financial Accounting Order


O R D E R


The judges of the magisterial courts of South Carolina being a part of the uniform statewide judicial system and pursuant to the provisions of Article V, Section 4, South Carolina Constitution,

IT IS ORDERED that each magistrate court of this State shall comply with the following financial recordkeeping standards. In those magistrate courts where more than one magistrate sits, such as a centralized magistrate court, the Chief Magistrate or his magistrate designee shall be responsible for the requirements under this Order. In those courts where multiple magistrates sit, a single set of bank accounts may be used for all judges that work out of the same office, rather than each judge having separate accounts.

I. Bank Accounts
  A. Each magistrate court should have at least two (2) separate bank accounts for the deposit of all public monies received by the court in its official capacity: a civil account and a criminal/traffic account.  However, if a court does not dispose of one or more of the two types of cases cited above, the need for that particular account is eliminated.  Finally, in addition to the accounts cited above, a court may create an escrow account for the temporary holding of funds for those cases requiring such an account.
  B.   Each magistrate court shall file with the Office of Court Administration within five (5) days of the date of this Order, an official statement showing compliance with provision I.A. above, unless such statement has previously been filed.  The statement shall include the name of the bank where the magistrate court public funds are deposited, the title under which the account is listed, and the number of the account.  If any changes occur in the required bank account information, the magistrate court must immediately notify the Office of Court Administration of those changes in writing.
     
II.     Receipts
  A.  All magistrate courts shall use computer generated receipts. Magistrate courts are required to use hand-written receipts issued by the Office of South Carolina Court Administration only in emergency situations.
  B.    The receipt should include the following information:
    1.  Receipt Number;
    2.   Date received;
    3. Person remitting funds (in cases involving bond money, person who the bond should be returned to if the defendant appears for trial; in payments for restitution, person who is designated to receive payments);
    4. Amount remitted;
    5. Method of payment (cash, check, money order, credit or debit card, etc.);
    6. Charging document number or civil case number;
    7. Type of Case (Civil, Criminal, Traffic, Bond, etc.) (required in non-computerized courts only); and
    8. Person receiving funds (printed name or user ID and hand-written initials of person receiving funds).
  C. At the end of each day the Total Deposit Slip Amount on the Daily Deposit Report should match the Deposit Slip.
  D.     Magistrate courts must use a computer generated report listing each voided receipt.  The Voided Receipt Report, which prints after the Daily Deposit Report, shall be used for this purpose. The Magistrate shall initial each item on the Voided Receipts Report. If mailed payments include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, the receipt shall be mailed to the payor.  Mailed non-resident violator compact (NRVC) receipts shall be returned to the defendant, accompanied by the NRVC compliance form.
  E.    All court services must be paid for as received. No credit may be extended on civil cases. If an individual is indigent and unable to pay, the magistrate court shall scan the Motion and Affidavit to Proceed in Forma Pauperis to the civil case.
  F.   Unless a magistrate court has only one employee, receiving of funds shall be done by a person not responsible for maintaining and reconciling financial records.
  G.   The court employee receiving funds shall indicate “For Deposit Only", the bank account number and the receipt number on all money orders and all checks as received.
  H.  Each magistrate court shall post in conspicuous locations in the public areas of their offices, notices provided them by the Office of South Carolina Court Administration, notifying individuals making payments to the court of requirements that magistrate courts furnish them with receipts and requesting that they wait for receipts.
     
III.  Deposits
  A.   Bank deposits must be made: (1) daily, or upon accumulation of $250.00, whichever occurs less often; (2) on each Friday; and (3) on the last working day of the month.
  B.   Checks received may be listed on the deposit slip as funds are received, but must be listed at the close of business daily.
  C. Three (3) separate deposit slips shall be prepared for each account (criminal/traffic and civil, if applicable).  These deposit slips shall include:
    1.  Date of deposit
    2.  List of checks deposited, total cash deposited, the starting and ending receipt numbers, and the total deposit.
  D.  Deposit slips shall be prepared in triplicate, and each copy shall be validated by the bank upon presentment. One copy shall be retained by the bank. The second copy shall be attached to the Daily Deposit Report and both must match.  The third copy shall be posted to the checkbook.
  E. Bank deposits shall be made at the end of the business day.
  F.   Each magistrate court shall also make notations on each deposit slip as to any discrepancies identified between total receipts and monies collected.
  G. Credit Card Web Transactions should be receipted daily after running the SCGov / NIC payment Merchant Details Report. Credit Card totals will not be included on deposit slips, but are listed on the Daily Deposit Report.
     
IV. Checks and Check Register/Check Stubs
  A.    A record of each check issued shall be written on the check register/check stub at the time of issuing the check. This check register/stub shall include the date, check payor, the case title and/or case number, the check amount, and any charging document number and the type of charging document. All monies shall be receipted and disbursed by court check with no exception, including restitution.
  B. All Checks shall have "NOT GOOD AFTER 90 DAYS" printed on the face of the check.
  C. Bonds collected for other magistrates, municipal judges, or clerks of court shall be receipted like any other cash payment. These bonds shall be promptly deposited to the bond court’s official bank account and disbursed by check only noting the required information (see Provision IV.A. above) on the check. These funds shall be transmitted to the trial court within three business days.
   D. The check register/check stub(s) shall include the following information:
    1. All deposits made during the period between the use of the previously numbered check and the current check. If available space precludes listing all deposits, a total shall be entered.
    2.  The date and amount of each check.
    3. The current balance in the account as indicated by the check register at the time each check is issued.
  E.  When the account is reconciled to the bank statement (see Provision VI below) the initials of the person reconciling the account, the date, and any adjustments shall be entered in the check register.
  F.  VOID should be written on all voided checks and the check shall be retained in the checkbook or attached to the bank reconciliation statement.
  G.  Because space is limited for entering deposits in the check register, it may be advantageous when listing numerous deposits to use a cash receipts log and carry totals to the deposit line on the check stub, or list the numerous deposits on the back of the previous check stub and carry totals to the deposit line on the check stub.  The cash receipt log shall be retained pursuant to Provision VI.H. below.
     
V.  Remittances to the County Treasurer
  A.  At the end of each month, all funds related to the Disbursement Report and accompanying documentation must be timely remitted, as required by S.C. Code §22-1-90, to the County Treasurer.  This remittance must take place on the first Wednesday in each month or within ten (10) days thereafter.
  B.  The Disbursement Report may be in electronic format.  This should include a full and accurate statement of all monies collected by the magistrate court on account of fines, penalties or forfeitures, or civil fees and costs during the past month together with the title of each case in which a fine, fee, or cost has been paid.  Remittances must balance with the Disbursement Report, the SC Revenue Report and Check Verification and Print Report, if used in CMS.
  C. All documentation must be complete.
     
VI. Account Maintenance
  A.  A schedule of bank statement dates shall be maintained for each separate account. If the statement is not received within five working days after it is usually received, the bank shall be notified.
  B. Each separate checkbook account balance shall be reconciled against the bank statement following each statement period using CMS Bank Account Details and Reconciliation. The reconciliation shall take place immediately upon receipt of the statement.
  C. Any variances between the magistrate's records (check register, Bank Account Details, Bank Account Reconciliation, etc.) and the bank's records (bank reconciliation statement) must be investigated and reconciled.
  D. The magistrate must initial the reconciled bank statement. This responsibility SHALL NOT be delegated to a staff person.
  E.  Any worksheets, documents, etc. used in reconciling the account shall be maintained with the reconciled bank statement.
  F.  Each month the magistrate court shall reconcile the bank statements using the Daily Deposit Report, the Disbursement Report, the Open Items Report, the Revenue Report and any SCGov credit card reports. The magistrate court shall reconcile the Criminal/Traffic bank statement by adding the total Net Disbursements for Criminal/Traffic cases from the Disbursement Report and the total from the current month's Open Items Report. This total should equal your Criminal/Traffic account balance.  The Civil bank statement is reconciled by adding the total adjusted amount from the Daily Deposit Report for the current month and any deposits for cases filed after the last day of month.  The total of these should equal your Civil Bank Account total.
  G.  All bank service charges such as night deposit bags, paper statement fees, return check fees, stop payment fees, coin and currency deposit fees and over draft fees must be reimbursed to the court by the county treasurer each month in order to keep the court bank account balanced.
  H. All financial records referenced throughout this Order including, but not limited to, bank statements, receipts, check stubs, deposit slips, etc., shall be retained for a minimum of seven (7) years.
     
VII.  Cross-training (This section does not apply to magistrate courts with a single employee.)
  A. All magistrates and their staff shall be cross-trained so as to ensure that proper procedures are followed in the absence of a staff member or a magistrate.
  B.  These written procedures and any other appropriate procedures shall be available for use by the magistrate and the magistrate's staff.
     
VIII. Miscellaneous
  A.  Time payments must be processed using CMS. When a court orders a defendant to make scheduled time payments, the total payments to be made, the date these payments are due, the date these payments are made, the receipt number, and amount of each payment must be maintained in CMS. The court shall print the Scheduled Time Payment form in CMS and have it signed by the defendant. The signed form must be scanned into CMS (if the ability to scan is available) and the paper document shall be retained pursuant to Provision VI.G. above. Individual time payments shall be remitted to the County Treasurer for the month received and not retained and remitted when total payments are received.
  B.  Those magistrate courts that allow payments by credit or debit card must comply with the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. §14-1-214.  Payment by credit or debit card is considered received by the court as of the time and date of the court’s acceptance of the card.  If a payment by credit or debit card is not honored by the credit card company on which the funds are drawn, the court retains all rights and remedies provided in the statute referenced above.
  C.  In those counties which have established a system for receipt of deposits in lieu of recognizance pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-530, the Chief Magistrate shall be responsible for ensuring that the established system complies with the provisions of this Order.  Additionally, the Chief Magistrate must ensure that the county detention facility has a secure location to safe keep bond money as received.  Detention facility personnel shall issue a receipt in triplicate when funds are received, one to be given to the defendant or person posting bond, one to be transmitted with the bond money to the court, and one to be retained by the detention facility.  Funds receipted by detention facility employees shall be delivered to the court each day, and shall be accompanied with documentation indicating the identity of the defendant, charge, charging document number, amount of funds received, the name and address of the payor (person the money should refunded) and the court’s copy of the receipt.  Upon receiving these funds and documentation, the court shall issue a receipt to the individual from the detention facility who delivered the same.  Any shortages or overages of funds discovered by detention facility personnel must be immediately reported to the Chief Magistrate upon discovery.
  D.  While not required by law, if the magistrate court chooses to accept payments in the case of restitution, earnest money in interpleader actions, rent paid into the magistrate court in the case of landlord-tenant cases, or other similar payments, the magistrate court shall receipt the payment (using a computer generated receipt as required in section II of this order), deposit the payment into the official bank account, and disburse the proceeds by check as required by this Order. 
  E. The required training of the staff of the magistrate as to proper procedures for handling the monies of the magistrate’s office shall not relieve the magistrate from personal responsibility for compliance with all applicable requirements for the handling of monies and the record keeping related thereto.
  F.  Any municipal court which chooses to participate in the Judicial Department’s Statewide Court Case Management System must comply with all provisions of this Order. Only court personnel may receive and/or disburse court funds. This subsection applies to all municipalities currently in agreement to so participate, and all municipalities who agree to so participate subsequent to the effective date of this Order.
  G. The printing of a paper copy of the monthly reports (Paper Dockets: Civil, Criminal & Traffic dockets, as required by of the Chief Justice Order dated September 18, 1978 and S.C. Code Ann. §22-1-90) is no longer required, as long as the court prints those reports to an external hard drive and to some type of electronic medium for the county auditor and treasurer.  These dockets are not public as they may contain information on records that have been expunged.  The active files of the court computer system is the official court record.
  H. Judges are also reminded that their offices should be audited by the county once a year as required by SC. Code Ann. §4-9-150.
     
IX. Each magistrate court shall immediately report in writing to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and to the Office of South Carolina Court Administration when any of the following occurs: (1) the discovery of any shortage or overage of funds of the magistrate court in excess of $25.00; an internal file shall be maintained by the magistrate court of any shortage or overage of funds of $25.00 or less, and any annual aggregate shortage or overage of $100.00 must be reported in writing as required above; the annual internal file must be retained for seven (7) years as required by this Order; (2) when any check of the magistrate office is returned marked "NSF", "not sufficient funds", or otherwise dishonored upon presentment; (3) when a magistrate receives a check written on any other magistrate’s bank account which is not honored upon presentment; or (4) when a magistrate has knowledge of a negative balance in that magistrate’s or any other magistrate’s bank account.  Any written reporting required herein shall include a statement from the reporting magistrate based on his/her best information and belief as to the reason for the discrepancy which facilitated the reporting.

While the Court recognizes that magistrates must utilize employees of their office to assist in the handling of the monies of their office, each magistrate is personally responsible for compliance with all procedures for the handling of the monies of their magisterial office and proper recordkeeping related thereto and shall regularly, but no less than monthly, review bank statements and other records to ensure such compliance.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that each magistrate court of this State shall fully cooperate in a timely manner with the audits made by appropriate officials of their respective counties or of this State except where to do so would be at variance with this or any other Order of this Court or the published procedures of the Office of South Carolina Court Administration or where otherwise authorized in writing by Order of this Court or the Director of the Office of South Carolina Court Administration.  Upon appropriate request by State or local officials, the magistrate court shall immediately make available and provide access, including computer access, to all official court records and documents for full inspection by appropriate officials.  Such records and documents shall include but not be limited to banking and financial accounts and statements, canceled checks, bills, receipts, cash, money orders, drafts, charging papers, and dockets.  The appropriate official may retain the original records and documents but shall provide the magistrate court with a receipt for records and documents, and shall provide the court with copies of documents retained, if necessary for the operation of the magistrate court.

These financial recordkeeping standards are minimum standards. This Order revokes and replaces the previous Order of the Chief Justice addressing financial recordkeeping standards in the magistrate’s courts of this State, dated March 13, 2007, and revokes the Order of the Chief Justice dated September 18, 1978, regarding the printing of paper copies of monthly reports for transmittal to the county auditor and treasurer.

The provisions of this Order are effective immediately, and shall remain in effect unless amended or revoked by further Order of the Chief Justice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

s/Donald W. Beatty                                   
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina

October 26, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina