October 20, 1978


TO: All Magistrates
FROM: L. Edmund Atwater, III, Staff Attorney
RE: Certificates of Transmittal

A review of Certificates of Transmittal has shown that in many cases magistrates are not complying with S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-350, and Rule 78 of the S.C. Rules of Civil Procedure. These provisions call for a return of warrants and bonds by the magistrates to the Clerk of Court within fifteen days.

Magistrates have reported a number of reasons for delays in excess of this fifteen day period: the police officers have held on to the warrant, the officer has asked for a delay, the defendant has asked for a delay, to await a preliminary examination. None of the above are valid reasons to delay transmittal of the warrant.

Magistrates are reminded that no bond hearing can be held without a warrant being presented to the magistrate before or at the time of the hearing. Once the warrant has been delivered to the Clerk of Court, subsequent proceedings by the magistrate can be accomplished through the use of a certified copy of the warrant from the Clerk of Court. Please notify this office when the copies are not provided in a timely fashion.

It is the magistrate's responsibility, pursuant to § 22-1-80, to keep a record of all warrants issued and to check periodically, at least once each week, with the office of the Sheriff or such other law enforcement agency to whom a warrant has been delivered for service to ascertain if such warrant has been served and the defendant has been arrested.

Magistrates are responsible to secure the return of the original warrant and related papers, including the bond, in order that the papers can be filed with the Clerk of Court.

The fifteen day limit begins to run not from the date the warrant was issued, but from the date of the arrest of the defendant. As the circuit court criminal dockets become more current, failure to transmit the warrant within the time period is causing unnecessary delay in the processing of the case.

While we have repeatedly reminded magistrates of the fifteen day requirement, there are a small number who persist in disregarding the procedure. If such disregard continues, we will have to take appropriate steps to insure compliance. We hope that such action will not be necessary.