Davis Adv. Sh. No. 5
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Cecil Cox and Wendy Respondents-
Fleetwood Homes of
Georgia, Inc., South
Homes of Aiken, Inc.,
Jerry Allen, d/b/a Allen
Mobile Homes, and Mike
Parker, d/b/a Reliable
Mobile Homes Service, Defendants,
Of Whom South Atlantic
Manufactured Homes of
Aiken, Inc., and Jerry
Allen, d/b/a Allen Mobile Petitioners-
Homes, are Respondents.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
Appeal From Florence County
Paul M. Burch, Circuit Court Judge
Opinion No. 24893
Submitted January 20, 1999 - Filed February 1, 1999
COX v. FLEETWOOD HOMES OF GEORGIA, INC., et al
Marshall Winn and Wallace K. Lightsey, both of
Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, of Greenville,
Frederick K. Jones, of Tolson and Jones, of Florence,
PER CURIAM: Respondents-petitioners (buyers) and
petitioners-respondents (sellers) have both filed petitions for writs of
certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision in this matter. The
buyers' petition is denied, and the sellers' petition is granted. We dispense
with further briefing and reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals.
Buyers brought this action in Florence County, a county within
the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, seeking to recover damages for the purchase
and installation of an allegedly defective mobile home. Subsequently;
sellers alleged that the parties had settled the case and asked the circuit
court to enforce the settlement. Buyers opposed the motion arguing, among
other things, that sellers had fraudulently procured the settlement.
Judge Burch, a resident judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit then
assigned to hold court in Florence County, granted the motion to enforce, but
did not specifically rule on the allegations of fraud. In a timely motion to
reconsider under Rules 52 and 59, SCRCP, buyers again raised the issue of
fraud, but the judge denied the motion without specifically addressing the
allegations of fraud. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and
remanded the case to the circuit court for a determination whether the
settlement agreement was procured through fraud. Cox v. Fleetwood Homes
of Georgia, Inc., Op. No. 95-UP-202 (S.C. Ct. App. filed July 10, 1995). The
opinion did not specifically remand the matter to Judge Burch.
the Seventh Judicial Circuit, made specific findings that the settlement had
not been fraudulently procured. Therefore, he again issued an order
enforcing the settlement agreement. By post-trial motion, buyers challenged
the judge's jurisdiction to issue the order since he was not then assigned to
hold court in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit. The judge denied this motion.
The Court of Appeals vacated the order and remanded. It
concluded that the judge lacked jurisdiction because he was not assigned to
the Twelfth Judicial Circuit at the time. Cox v. Fleetwood Homes of Georgia,
Inc., 329 S.C. 157) 494 S.E.2d 462 (Ct. App. 1997). We disagree.
As a general rule, a judge assigned to a judicial circuit must
exercise his judicial powers in that circuit while within the territorial
boundaries of the circuit. Shillito v. City of Spartanburg, 215 S.C. 83, 54
S.E.2d 521 (1949). Further, a judge assigned to hold court in a circuit in
which he is not a resident must generally exercise judicial duties relating to
the circuit during the period of the assignment. Hines v. Farr, 235 S.C. 436,
112 S.E.2d 33 (1960).
These limitations are, however, subject to several exceptions.
One of these exceptions is that a judge may issue an order regarding matters
which were submitted to the judge while presiding in the circuit. Barnett v.
Piedmont Shirt Co., 230 S.C. 34, 94 S.E.2d 1 (1956); Shillito v. City of
Spartanburg, supra; Chafee v. Rainey, 21 S.C. 11 (1883). Another exception
is that a judge retains jurisdiction to consider timely post-trial motions even
though no longer assigned to the circuit. Rules 50(e), 52(c) and 59(f),
In the present case, the first opinion of the Court of Appeals
remanded the case to the circuit court to make a specific ruling on the
allegations of fraud. Since the parties had already been afforded the
opportunity to present evidence and make argument on the issue of fraud, no
further hearing was required. If a judge has jurisdiction to consider matters
which are submitted to him in the circuit or by timely post-trial motion, we
see no reason to have a different rule if such matters are resubmitted by an
appellate court for more specific findings and conclusions,
In our opinion, where a case is remanded on appeal to make
more specific factual findings or conclusions of law which do not require any
to issue an amended order even though the judge is not a resident of or then
assigned to hold court in the judicial circuit where the case arose.
Accordingly, we reverse the opinion of the Court of Appeals and reinstate the
order enforcing the settlement.