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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

RULE 509

(a) Board of Magistrate and Municipal Judge Certification.

(1) Membership and Terms of Office. The Board of Magistrate and Municipal Judge Certification ("Board") shall consist of nine (9) members. The Board members shall be appointed by the Supreme Court for three (3) year terms and shall be eligible for reappointment. In case of a vacancy on the Board, the Supreme Court shall appoint a member to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. The Supreme Court shall appoint a chairperson of the Board from among the Board's membership. The Director of South Carolina Court Administration ("Director") shall serve as secretary of the Board ex officio.

(2) Duties. It shall be the duty of the Board to determine whether magistrates and municipal judges in South Carolina possess the necessary legal knowledge for appointment and reappointment, pursuant to the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. §§ 22-1-10 and 14-25-15. Subject to the approval of the Supreme Court, the Board is empowered to make rules and regulations for conducting the required training program curriculum and examinations, including a list of the subjects upon which applicants may be tested. Thirty (30) days notice must be given of any changes to the rules and regulations.

(b) Application for Certification or Recertification Examination. Members in good standing of the South Carolina Bar are exempt from certification and recertification examinations requirements. For purposes of this Rule, ministerial magistrates and municipal ministerial recorders are considered magistrates and municipal judges, and are subject to certification and recertification requirements. Examinations for certification or recertification of non-lawyer magistrates and municipal judges shall be conducted at least three times each year at such times as the Board shall specify. Any person desiring to take the Examination shall file an application with the Director on a form prescribed by the Board. Applications shall be accepted up to the first day of the month in which the examination is given. Only active magistrates and municipal judges may apply for examination.

An application will not be considered filed until it is fully completed and received by the Director.

(c) Review of Examination Results. The Certification and Recertification Examinations shall consist of such sections as may be specified by the Board. The Board shall certify whether an applicant passed or failed for each section of the examination to the Director who shall promptly then notify the applicants. An applicant must pass each section of the examination but need not pass every section of the examination during the same trimester. Once the applicant passes a particular section, he or she shall not be retested on that section again for purposes of the immediate certification or recertification being sought.

An applicant who fails to pass any section of the Certification Examination may, within fifteen (15) days after notification of the failure, request in writing the Director's permission to inspect that section of the examination, the model answers, and the applicant's answers. Within ten (10) days of receipt of the request, the Director shall notify the applicant of the date and time when the inspection will be permitted and where it will occur. The inspection must take place within thirty (30) days of the Director's receipt of the request.

After reviewing the examination papers, an applicant who feels an error has been made in grading an answer may petition the Supreme Court to have the answer regraded. The petition, accompanied by a filing fee of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars, must be filed with the Supreme Court within ten (10) days of the applicant's review of the examination and must enumerate the alleged errors in grading. No briefing or argument is permitted. The only identifying mark to be placed on the petition is an identification number assigned to the applicant by the Board. Neither the applicant nor any agent of the applicant shall contact any member of the Board or any justice of the Supreme Court regarding the questions on any section of the Certification Examination, grading, procedures, or an applicant's answers.

(d) Re-examination. Any applicant who has failed to pass any section of the examination may apply to be re-examined on those sections as often as the examinations are offered. The application shall be made on a form furnished by the Director. The time limits applicable to filing initial applications shall be applicable to applications for re-examination.

(e) Confidentiality. The files and records maintained by the Board relating to applications, examinations, and re-examinations shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except as necessary for the Board to carry out its responsibilities. The Board may disclose the names of those persons who have successfully completed the certification process. The Supreme Court may authorize the release of confidential information to other persons or agencies.

(f) Failure to Obtain Certification or Recertification. If a magistrate fails to obtain certification or recertification within the time period prescribed by § 22-1-10, the Board shall send a written notice to the Governor that the magistrate has failed to timely obtain certification or recertification, that the magistrate's office is vacant and that the Governor should appoint a successor. A copy of the notification shall be sent to the magistrate.

If a municipal judge fails to obtain certification or recertification within the time prescribed by § 14-25-15, the Board shall send a written notice to the City Council that the municipal judge has failed to timely obtain certification or recertification, that the municipal judge's office is vacant, and that the Council should appoint a successor. A copy of the notification shall be sent to the municipal judge.

Amended by Order dated October 11, 2023.