JEAN HOEFER TOAL
1231 GERVAIS STREET
TO: Magistrates and Municipal Judges
FROM: The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal
RE: Delays in Disposal of Magistrate and Municipal Court Cases
DATE: October 23, 2008
I am troubled by reports of large numbers of cases languishing in magistrate and municipal courts due to mandatory continuances necessitated by Rule 601, SCACR, "Conflicts in Hearing Dates." I receive numerous complaints from litigants whose cases are repeatedly continued as a result of conflicting attorney obligations to courts of higher jurisdiction. Pursuant to the Rule, magistrates and municipal judges have no choice but to defer to the court of higher jurisdiction, which is increasing the backlog of cases in the summary courts. Often times these conflicts can be easily avoided. In an attempt to alleviate this problem, I provide the following suggestions to assist in disposing of those cases. By copy of this letter, I am asking for the cooperation of the entire Bench and Bar in addressing this problem.
After a magistrate or municipal court case (civil or criminal) has been continued on at least two occasions due to attorney conflicts with courts of higher jurisdiction, the trial judge should utilize the following strategies:
Again, I urge the Bench and the Bar to work with our magistrates and municipal court judges in this effort. The suggestions I provide are pointless without your assistance. Please feel free to contact me or my staff if you have questions or suggestions concerning this matter.