The Supreme Court of South Carolina
Re: In the Matter of Edgefield County Magistrate James A. McLaurin, Jr.
Edgefield County Magistrate James A. McLaurin, Jr. has repeatedly failed to conduct bond hearings in a timely manner in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-510(B) (2007). Magistrate McLaurin has previously been directed that such neglect of duty is an unacceptable affront to the fair administration of justice and the courts. Subsequent to Judge McLaurin's last warning in September of 2021, I issued an order on November 8, 2021, requiring full-time and part-time magistrates perform their judicial duties in conformance with their compensation and assignments.
After receiving recent allegations of neglect of duty, I met with Magistrate McLaurin and granted him the opportunity to respond to the allegations. Magistrate McLaurin did not contest the allegations but instead offered information about a plan of improvement that was developed after his last warning. This plan has not been effective. Having failed to provide an adequate response, and due to the repetitive nature of the misconduct, I find it necessary and in the best interest of the public to take immediate action. Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,
IT IS ORDERED that Edgefield County Magistrate McLaurin is suspended from his magisterial duties for a definite period of ninety days, without compensation from Edgefield County, and such suspension shall begin immediately.
Given the significance of this matter, a copy of this order will be distributed to all summary court judges. These judges are directed to carefully evaluate their own procedures and be physically present during working hours. Chief Judges for Administrative Purposes are reminded of their responsibility to monitor all summary court judges within the county to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Order of the Chief Justice dated September 19, 2007, outlining certain bond procedures.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
July 11, 2022