November 30, 1979


TO: Magistrates and Municipal Judges
FROM: John Patrick, Assistant Director
RE: Exercise of Concurrent Jurisdiction

Magistrates and municipal judges have concurrent jurisdiction over state criminal offenses which occur within the municipality. The Chief Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court has issued an Order, a copy of which may be found in the ORDERS section of the Bench Book, regarding the exercise of such concurrent jurisdiction.

This Order requires that all magistrates and municipal judges exercise their jurisdiction when requested to do so regardless of the fact that the state offense occurred within the municipality and regardless of which law enforcement agency requests the judicial action.

This Order further provides that the court in which the action is initiated (e.g. court issuing arrest warrant) shall perform all necessary judicial functions regarding the case (e.g. conducting trial or holding preliminary examination). As a general matter, therefore, the transfer of cases between the magistrates court and municipal court is prohibited. A transfer of a case could occur only when a request for a change of venue has been validly presented to the municipal court upon sufficient cause.

The one exception to the general rule requiring all judicial functions be performed by the court initiating the action is the setting of bail. The exception is for the limited purpose of assuring that individuals charged with state criminal offenses will not be unnecessarily detained due to the unavailability of a judge of the court initiating the action. To avoid the obvious potential for conflict, such setting of bail should be performed only upon the request of the initiating court and with careful coordination between the two courts. This procedure for conducting bail proceedings is not intended to be used on a regular basis, but only in those instances in which a judge of the initiating court is unavoidable and unreasonable delay in presenting defendants to a judicial officer will result. judges are reminded that in setting bail, the charging paper (e.g. arrest warrant, uniform traffic ticket) should be presented to the judge at the time of setting bail.

Should you have questions regarding this Order, please do not hesitate to call our office.