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South Carolina
Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court of South Carolina


Re: Hours of Full- and Part-Time Magistrates Statewide



It has come to my attention that some magistrates, despite being appointed to and compensated for a full-time position, are consistently working less than a 40-hour work week.  As of the end of August 2021, there were 270,024 pending cases in magistrate courts statewide.  It will not be possible to address this backlog of cases if magistrates are not performing their official duties for the requisite number of hours.  I take this opportunity to remind magistrates of the following Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and that violations of the Code may result in disciplinary proceedings against judges who violate them:

  • Canon 1 requires that judges "uphold the integrity…of the judiciary."
  • Canon 3 requires judges to "perform the duties of judicial office…diligently."
  • Canon 3(A) requires "[t]he judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the judge's other activities."
  • Canon 3(B)(8) states, "[a] judge shall dispose of all judicial matters promptly, efficiently and fairly."
  • Canon 3(C)(1) states, "[a] judge shall diligently discharge the judge's administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration, and should cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business."

Consistently and deliberately working fewer hours than a judge is assigned to and compensated for is undoubtedly a violation of each of these Canons.  For the foregoing reasons, I find it necessary to address the hours worked by magistrates statewide. Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,

IT IS ORDERED that all full-time magistrates shall spend at least 40 hours per week in the performance of their official judicial duties as defined by S. C. Code Ann. §22-8-20 (2007).  Exceptions should be made for lunch breaks, vacation time, sick leave, and emergencies as they may arise.  Full-time magistrates shall carry a full docket of cases, and shall diligently, promptly, and efficiently adjudicate those cases.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all part-time magistrates spend a number of hours in the performance of their official judicial duties, as defined by S. C. Code Ann. § 22-8-20 (2007) equal to the hours of their part-time position.  Exceptions should be made for lunch breaks, vacation time, sick leave, and emergencies as they arise.  Part-time magistrates shall carry a docket of cases commensurate with the number of hours they are assigned to work, and shall assist full-time magistrates in disposing of the backlog of cases.


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

Columbia, South Carolina
November 8, 2021