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Edgefield County, South Carolina

June 29, 2005

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Chief Magistrate Judge Davis Parkman Obliges Freedom of Information Request


web posted June 29,  2005

The Edgefield Daily.com Editor met with Chief Magistrate Davis Parkman today regarding release of the findings of the Edgefield County Magistrate Court for the preceding week. During the taped session by the Magistrate Court Edgefield Daily.com explained that it was imperative that those shown in local papers and on Edgefield Daliy.com’s Crime Blotter have the opportunity to have their names cleared when found not guilty of crimes they were arrested for.

Chief Magistrate Davis Parkman was most amicable and provided the requested weekly information. We commend Judge Parkman for his openness of the Magistrate Court.  We do, however, have problems with the resolution of cases behind locked doors in Magistrate Court.

A sign in the lobby of the Magistrate Court Building states clearly that “all” court hearings will be held in public even though most cases held in Edgefield County Magistrate Court are held in the private office of the Magistrate and not in public.

This is due to several factors including the moving of the Magistrate Court to the former Administration Building at 215 Jeter St. The Edgefield County Council spent well over a quarter of a million dollars to renovate the new Council Chambers Building to accommodate Magistrate court, which is seldom used because it is not functional in a court setting according to Magistrate Judge Brenda Carpenter.

With the moving of offices at a cost of over $70,000 and the improvements of the privately owned Council Chambers exceeding $250,000 said to provide the Magistrate Court with a Court Room, and why Edgefield County still does not have open and public access to Magistrate Court is simply unbelievable.

Is the common man’s court held in public? No, not by any means. Are our Magistrates responsible for that? Partly, but not completely. They are forced to operate under the budget provided by the county.

In the main Courthouse there are two courts, the main court room and the family court room which will accommodate the public. In spite of the availability of the public court rooms most cases are heard “in chambers”.  Edgefield Dailty.com has a working plan that would allow for the Council Chambers to be used as a courtroom for trial in the full view of the public, as is stated in postings by the Magistrate Court In their lobby

Edgefield Daily.com will be seeking to be added to the July 5, 2005 regular meeting of the County Council to present our plan to resolve court behind closed doors.

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