The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: In the Matter of Berkeley County Magistrate Ava E. Bryant
Berkeley County Magistrate Ava E. Bryant has failed to report for duty at Berkeley County Magistrate Court on at least twenty-nine days within the last six months. Magistrate Bryant devised and implemented a work scheduling scheme that deceptively allowed her to take multiple unauthorized days off during the work week while appearing to be at work. Magistrate Bryant directed the clerks in her office not to schedule hearings for her to preside over on numerous days each month, and would not report to her office on those days, despite her status as a full-time magistrate judge. This is in direct contravention of my Order re: Hours of Full- and Part-Time Magistrates Statewide dated November 8, 2021. Magistrate Bryant was fully aware of this order and devised the deceptive work schedule to circumvent the requirement to work the hours for which she was being paid. This dereliction of duty is an unacceptable affront to the fair administration of justice and the courts. Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,
IT IS ORDERED that Berkeley County Magistrate Bryant is suspended from her magisterial duties for a definite period of ninety days, without compensation from Berkeley 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. Additionally, all summary court judges should review the Order re: Hours of Full- and Part-Time Magistrates Statewide and ensure their compliance with that Order.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
September 28, 2023