South Carolina’s top court has publicly reprimanded a former Edgefield County probate judge for using the court’s bank accounts for personal financial dealings.
The state Supreme Court justices also criticized former judge Robert Peeler for calling his court employees “heifers” and “DW (double wide),” according to the reprimand made public Wednesday. The Democratic official admitted to “pranks and jokes” in the agreement he agreed were unprofessional and discourteous. However, it’s not clear if “pranks and jokes” were a reference to the comments or other undisclosed incidents.
Probate judges are elected positions in South Carolina. Peeler held the post from 1991 until his retirement last year.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) said Peeler also improperly used court funds for his home’s roof after he had trouble depositing an insurance payout. The reprimand states the judge admitted having his stepson deposit the insurance checks into the court funds. He then wrote a check from those funds to his stepson to pay the roofing company. However, the reprimand states the stepson did not pay the roofer. Peeler said he learned what happened after receiving a summons for the unpaid amount and has since filed a lawsuit against his stepson.
The justices said the reprimand was the highest punishment they could give Peeler since he has retired from public office. He would be required to seek permission from the SC Supreme Court before seeking a judicial position in the state again.