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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

RULE 504

(a) Purpose. Only by continuing their legal education can the Judiciary fulfill its obligation to competently serve the State. This Rule establishes minimum requirements for such continuing legal education and the means by which the requirements shall be enforced. For the purposes of this Rule, the term "judge" means all justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court, all judges of the Court of Appeals, all judges of the circuit court, all full-time and part-time masters-in-equity, all family court judges, and all probate judges (including associate and deputy probate judges and other persons, regardless of job description or title, who perform the duties of a probate judge either full-time or part-time). Nothing in this Rule shall be construed as preventing the Supreme Court from requiring mandatory attendance of judges at designated continuing legal education programs.

(b) Continuing Legal Education Requirement. A judge shall complete a minimum of 15 hours of continuing legal education approved by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization (Commission) each year. The annual reporting period for purposes of this Rule shall run from March 1 through the last day in February. A judge may be given credit in one or more succeeding reporting periods, not exceeding three (3) such periods, for completing more than fifteen (15) hours of approved education during any one reporting period. At least once every two (2) reporting years, a judge must complete one (1) hour of approved education devoted exclusively to instruction in substance abuse, mental health issues or stress management and the legal profession.1

(c) Annual Report. On or before April 15 of each year, each judge shall make a written report to the Commission, on a form approved by the Commission, concerning his or her completion of approved continuing legal education during the preceding year. The form shall be accompanied by filing fees prescribed by the Commission.

(d) Non-compliance.

(1) If it appears to the Commission that a judge has failed to comply with the requirements of this Rule, the Commission shall notify the judge in writing of this apparent non-compliance by certified mail, addressed to him or her at his or her last known address. The judge shall then have sixty (60) days after the mailing of the notice to file an affidavit responding to it. The response may include documents demonstrating that the judge has cured any deficiency. If after receiving the judge's response the Commission believes the judge is still in violation of this Rule, the Commission shall report the matter to the Supreme Court. Upon receiving a report of non-compliance, the Supreme Court may take such action as it deems appropriate.

(2) In addition, any judge who willfully fails to comply with this rule may be subject to disciplinary action under Rule 502, SCACR.

(3) For good cause shown, the Commission may, in individual cases involving hardship or extenuating circumstances, grant waivers of the minimum education requirements or extensions of time within which to fulfill the same or make the required reports.

Last amended by Order dated March 13, 2019, effective May 1, 2019.

1 Effective May 1, 2019, judges are required to obtain one hour of CLE devoted exclusively to substance abuse, mental health issues or stress management and the legal profession (SA/MH) every two annual reporting years, rather than every three annual reporting years, as was formerly required. Under the amended rule, judges who satisfied this requirement in the 2018-2019 annual reporting year are required to complete the requirement again no later than the 2020-21 reporting year. Judges who completed the requirement in either the 2016-2017 or the 2017-2018 reporting year are required to complete the requirement again in the 2019-2020 reporting year.