A South Carolina Senate panel on Tuesday approved extending the time that a state magistrate’s test is valid. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on making the change Tuesday.
State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said sometimes the test for a magistrate candidate expires before an election is scheduled. “We intend to have a magistrate’s election at one point in time, but we delay it, often over six months,” Campsen said.
Magistrates are county-level tier judges in South Carolina. They are appointed by the governor upon the recommendation of a county legislative delegation and must also pass a certification examination within one year of their appointment. They are not required to have a law degree.
Generally, magistrates have criminal trial jurisdiction over all offenses where the penalty is a fine of no more than $500 or up to 30 days in prison. They will also preside over bond hearings for more severe charges.
Currently the tests scores are valid for six months before and six months after a magistrate appointment is made.
“All this bill does is make the test valid for one year before the appointment and two years after it. So these magistrates candidates don’t have to continually retake these tests,” Campsen said.
He said the Senate in the past has approved legislation extending the time, but it has not passed in the House. “I’m going to try and get the House to take it up this year. I’ll talk to the (Judiciary Committee) chairman over there,” Campsen said.