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It’s time for Edgefield County to leap, not crawl, into the new decade:
A Column by the Editor
posted January 25, 2010
COLUMN – As I pointed out in the first
part of this series, Edgefield County has opportunities to make great
strides for its citizens as we draw near to the next decade. Although a
widely unpopular move by the county council to purchase the Calliham
building has tentatively been set to move forward, seizing an
opportunity should not be missed. When given lemons, make lemonade. For
this column I will focus on the Magistrates Office and Court.
The Magistrate’s Office is just that, an office. It is supposed to
include a courtroom but it does not. Over ninety per cent of all cases
heard by the Magistrate Court are held behind a locked door, out of the
public’s view. Now, before you jump to conclusions, it is because the
county does not have a Magistrate’s courtroom, so they do the best they
can with what they have.
In 2000, the Edgefield County Council voted to lease the old Edgefield
Post Office at the corner of Railroad and Jeter Streets and remodel it
as the new council chambers. It was sold to the public as having a
secondary use by the Magistrates as a courtroom. Though the promised
costs by county leaders doubled before the job was completed, it has
seen sporadic use at best by the Magistrates, and then only for jury
Now that the county is going to remodel a rundown building with major
drainage issues, we might as well make the best of it and bring
Magistrate Court hearings in the county into the 21st century by
providing them with office space and a courtroom in the building.
In every other Magistrate Court, those with charges or cases fill the
courtroom, the Magistrate walks in and begins to call the names of
those who are to have their cases heard. They come forward, sit at the
defendants table, plead their case, offer witnesses if they have them,
and the other party, be it a police officer or another citizen, does
the same. A ruling is made with everyone, including other defendants,
That is the way General Sessions Court operates, why not the
In Edgefield County Magistrate Court defendants gather in a waiting
room and anticipate their name to be called then are led behind a door
with an electronic lock, to sit in a tiny office, to have their day in
court - without the public watching.
In all fairness, if you want to observe a case as a member of the
public you can, but most people do not know that you can go behind the
closed doors with those called, as an observer.
It is time for the Edgefield County Magistrate Court to be run the same
way all courtrooms across America are run, 100% in the open. When the
remodeling plans are drawn, they should include office space and a
courtroom for the Magistrate Court.
No criminal or civil court in Edgefield County should ever be held in a
back office behind a locked door that is placed for the specific reason
to keep the public from entering.
The integrity of the judicial process of the Magistrate Court hinges on
whether our county leaders will once again miss another opportunity to
better our county, or just seek to waste time, effort, and money that
have no lasting effect on things that matter in our county.
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We still need recipes for Cooking Section
WEBNEWS – Send in your favorite or
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With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal
section, help her create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking,
grilling, sauces, and deserts! Send in your submissions here.