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This order was amended by a March 13, 2007 order of the Chief Justice,
which can be found in the order section of the bench book for
magistrates and municipal judges.


2006-09-07-05 The Supreme Court of South Carolina

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

RE:  Magistrate Court Financial Accounting Order


O R D E R


The judges of the magisterial courts of South Carolina being a part of the uniform statewide judicial system and pursuant to the provisions of Article V, Section 4, South Carolina Constitution,

IT IS ORDERED that each magistrate court of this State shall comply with the following financial recordkeeping standards.  In those magistrate courts where more than one magistrate sits, such as a centralized magistrate court, the Chief Magistrate or his magistrate designee shall be responsible for the requirements under this Order.

I. Bank Accounts
  A. Each magistrate court should have at least three (3) separate bank accounts for the deposit of all public monies received by the court in its official capacity: a civil account, a criminal account, and a traffic account.  However, if a court does not dispose of one or more of the three types of cases cited above, the need for that particular account is eliminated.  Additionally, a magistrate court may choose to combine the criminal account and traffic account into one account if that court’s criminal and traffic caseload does not justify separate accounts. 
  B.   Each magistrate court shall file with the Office of Court Administration within five (5) days of the date of this Order, an official statement showing compliance with provision I.A. above, unless such statement has previously been filed.  The statement shall include the name of the bank where the magistrate court public funds are deposited, the title under which the account is listed, and the number of the account.  If any changes occur in the required bank account information, the magistrate court must immediately notify the Office of Court Administration of those changes in writing.
     
II.     Receipts
  A.  The uniform receipting system and uniform receipt book promulgated by the Office of Court Administration shall be used to record and maintain receipts for all monies collected by a magistrate court. Monies received by mail or directly from law enforcement officers shall be receipted the same day they are delivered or received. A receipt shall be issued immediately upon receipt of any and all payments.
  B.    The receipt should include the following information:
    1.  Receipt Number;
    2.   Date received;
    3. Person remitting funds (in cases involving bond money, person who the bond should be returned to if the defendant appears for trial; in payments for restitution, person who is designated to receive payments);
    4. Amount remitted;
    5. Method of payment (cash, check, money order, credit or debit card, etc.);
    6. Charging document number or civil case number;
    7. Type of Case (Civil, Criminal, Traffic, Bond, etc.) (required in non-computerized courts only); and
    8. Person receiving funds (printed name or user ID and hand-written initials of person receiving funds).
  C. At the end of each day, all receipts issued shall be totaled, and the total indicated on the Daily Cash Summary Report.
  D.     Voided receipts and receipts from mail payments shall be retained in the receipt book by attaching the receipt to the office copy. All voided receipts must be initialed by the magistrate.  Computerized magistrate courts may use a computer generated report listing each voided receipt.  In those cases, the magistrate shall initial each voided receipt number on that report.  If mailed payments include a self-addressed, stamped enveloped, the receipt shall be mailed to payor.  Mailed non-resident violator compact (NRVC) receipts shall be returned to the defendant, accompanied by the NRVC compliance form. 
  E.    All court services must be paid for as received. No credit may be extended on civil cases. If an individual is indigent and unable to pay, the magistrate court shall attach a copy of the Motion and Affidavit to Proceed in Forma Pauperis to the civil pleadings.
  F.   Unless a magistrate court has only one employee, receiving of funds shall be done by a person not responsible for maintaining and reconciling financial records.
  G.   The court employee receiving funds shall stamp “For Deposit Only" and the account number on all money orders and all checks as received.
  H.  Computerized magistrate courts shall use computer generated receipts. All information required in provision II.B. above shall be included on computer generated receipts except where otherwise indicated. Computerized magistrate courts may use hand-written receipts issued by the Office of South Carolina Court Administration in emergency situations only.
  I.  Each magistrate court shall post in conspicuous locations in the public areas of their offices, notices provided them by the Office of South Carolina Court Administration, notifying individuals making payments to the court of requirements that magistrate courts furnish them with receipts and requesting that they wait for receipts.
     
III.  Deposits
  A.   Bank deposits must be made: (1) daily, or upon accumulation of $250.00, whichever occurs less often; (2) on each Friday; (3) and on the last working day of the month.
  B.   Checks received may be listed on the deposit slip as funds are received, but must be listed at the close of business daily.
  C. Three (3) separate deposit slips shall be prepared for each separate account (criminal, traffic, and civil, if applicable).  These deposit slips shall include:
    1.  Date of deposit
    2.  List of checks deposited (name of Defendant and amount of check must be included), total cash deposited, the starting and ending receipt numbers, and the total deposit.
  D.  Deposit slips shall be prepared in triplicate, and each copy shall be validated by the bank upon presentment. One copy shall be retained by the bank. In computerized magistrate courts, the second copy shall be attached to the Daily Transaction Report.  In non-computerized magistrate courts, the second copy shall be attached to the ending receipt number.  The third copy shall be posted to the checkbook.
  E. Bank deposits shall be made at the end of the business day.
  F.   Each magistrate court shall also make notations on each deposit slip as to any discrepancies identified between total receipts and monies collected.
     
IV. Checks and Check Register/Check Stubs
  A.    A record of each check issued shall be written on the check register/check stub at the time of issuing the check. This check register/stub shall include the date, check payor, the case title and/or case number, a short explanation of the reason for the check, the check amount and receipt number, and any charging document number and the type of charging document. This information shall also be placed on the check. The amount of the check and the check number shall be entered on the receipt and on the charging document. All monies shall be receipted and disbursed by court check with no exception, including restitution.
  B. Bonds collected for other magistrates, municipal judges, or clerks of court shall be receipted like any other cash payment. These bonds shall be promptly deposited to the magistrate court’s official bank account and disbursed by check only, noting the required information (see Provision IV.A. above) on the check. These funds shall be transmitted to the trial court so as to arrive before the scheduled court date, or as required by Rule 3, SCrimP, in the case of general sessions charges.
  C.  The check register/check stub(s) shall include the following information:
    1. All deposits made during the period between the use of the previously numbered check and the current check. If available space precludes listing all deposits, a total shall be entered.
    2.  The date and amount of each check
    3. The current balance in the account as indicated by the check register at the time each check is issued.
  D.  When the account is reconciled to the bank statement (see Provision VI below) the initials of the person reconciling the account, the date, and any adjustments shall be entered in the check register.
  E.  All voided checks shall be retained in the checkbook or attached to the bank reconciliation statement.
  F.  Because space is limited for entering deposits in the check register, it may be advantageous when listing numerous deposits to use a cash receipts log and carry totals to the deposit line on the check stub, or list the numerous deposits on the back of the previous check stub and carry totals to the deposit line on the check stub.  The cash receipt log shall be retained pursuant to Provision VI.G. below.
     
V.  Remittances to the County Treasurer
  A.  At the end of each monthly docket period, all funds related to that docket and accompanying documentation must be timely remitted, as required by State law, to the County Treasurer.  This remittance must take place on the first Wednesday in each month or within ten (10) days thereafter.
  B.  The remittance must include a full and accurate statement of all monies collected by the magistrate court on account of fines, penalties or forfeitures, or civil fees and costs during the past month together with the title of each case in which a fine, fee, or cost has been paid.  Remittances must balance with the appropriate docket sheet(s).
  C. All documentation must be complete.
     
VI. Account Maintenance
  A.  A schedule of bank statement dates shall be maintained for each separate account. If the statement is not received within five working days after it is usually received, the bank shall be notified.
  B. Each separate checkbook account balance shall be reconciled against the bank statement following each statement period. The reconciliation shall take place immediately upon receipt of the statement. The checking accounts must be reconciled as of the last working day of the month.
  C. Any variances between the magistrate's records (check register, etc.) and the bank's records (bank reconciliation statement) must be investigated and reconciled.
  D. The magistrate must initial the reconciled bank statement.  This responsibility shall not be delegated to a staff person.
  E.  Any worksheets, documents, etc. used in reconciling the account shall be maintained with the reconciled bank statement.
  F.  Each month the magistrate court shall reconcile the bank statement to the dockets by adding the total of the disposed traffic docket, the total of the disposed criminal docket, the total pending civil docket, the total of the outstanding bond list, and other monies on deposit.  The total of these items should equal the total of the bank account or bank accounts.
  G.  All financial records referenced throughout this Order including, but not limited to, bank statements, receipts, check stubs, deposit slips, etc., shall be retained for a minimum of seven (7) years.
     
VII.  Cross-training (This section does not apply to magistrate courts with a single employee.)
  A. All magistrates and their staff shall be cross-trained so as to ensure that proper procedures are followed in the absence of a staff member or a magistrate.
  B.  These written procedures and any other appropriate procedures shall be available for use by the magistrate and the magistrate's staff.
     
VIII. Miscellaneous
  A.  In the event a defendant is to make scheduled time payments, the following information shall be attached to or noted on the charging document or, in those computerized courts, maintained within the computer system: the total payments to be made, the date these payments are due, the date these payments are made, the receipt number and amount of each payment.  Individual time payments shall be remitted to the County Treasurer for the month received and not retained and remitted when total payments are received.
  B.  All unpaid NRVC forms shall be retained until payment is made. All paid NRVC forms shall be retained for ten years. When payment is received, those computerized magistrate courts shall note the date, amount of payment, and receipt number on the form or within the computer system.  In those non-computerized magistrate courts, the page and line number that payment was entered on the docket must be included on the form, along with the date, amount of payment, and receipt number. The unpaid NRVC forms shall be kept separate from the paid NRVC forms and unpaid forms shall be turned over to the Chief Magistrate when there is a change in judicial office.
  C.  Those magistrate courts that allow payments by credit or debit card must comply with the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. §14-1-214.  Payment by credit or debit card is considered received by the court as of the time and date of the court’s acceptance of the card.  If a payment by credit or debit card is not honored by the credit card company on which the funds are drawn, the court retains all rights and remedies provided in the statute referenced above. 
  D.  In those counties which have established a system for receipt of deposits in lieu of recognizance pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-530, the Chief Magistrate shall be responsible for ensuring that the established system complies with the provisions of this Order.  Additionally, the Chief Magistrate must ensure that the county detention facility has a secure location to safe keep bond money as received.  Detention facility personnel shall issue a receipt in triplicate when funds are received, one to be given to the defendant or person posting bond, one to be transmitted with the bond money to the court, and one to be retained by the detention facility.  Funds receipted by detention facility employees shall be delivered to the court each day, and shall be accompanied with documentation indicating the identity of the defendant, charge, charging document number, amount of funds received, and the court’s copy of the receipt.  Upon receiving these funds and documentation, the court shall issue a receipt to the individual from the detention facility who delivered the same.  Any shortages or overages of funds discovered by detention facility personnel must be immediately reported to the Chief Magistrate upon discovery. 
  E. While not required by law, if the magistrate court chooses to accept payments in the case of restitution, earnest money in interpleader actions, rent paid into the magistrate court in the case of landlord-tenant cases, or other similar payments, the magistrate court shall receipt the payment, deposit the payment into the official bank account, and disburse the proceeds by check as required by this Order. 
  F.  The required training of the staff of the magistrate as to proper procedures for handling the monies of the magistrate’s office shall not relieve the magistrate from personal responsibility for compliance with all applicable requirements for the handling of monies and the record keeping related thereto.
     
IX. Each magistrate court shall immediately report in writing to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and to the Office of South Carolina Court Administration when any of the following occurs: (1) the discovery of any shortage or overage of funds of the magistrate court in excess of $25.00; an internal file shall be maintained by the magistrate court of any shortage or overage of funds of $25.00 or less, and any annual aggregate shortage or overage of $100.00 must be reported in writing as required above; the annual internal file must be retained for seven (7) years as required by this Order; (2) when any check of the magistrate office is returned marked "NSF", "not sufficient funds", or otherwise dishonored upon presentment; (3) when a magistrate receives a check written on any other magistrate’s bank account which is not honored upon presentment; (4) and when a magistrate has knowledge of a negative balance in that magistrate’s or any other magistrate’s bank account.  Any written reporting required herein shall include a statement from the reporting magistrate based on his/her best information and belief as to the reason for the discrepancy which facilitated the reporting.

While the Court recognizes that magistrates must utilize employees of their office to assist in the handling of the monies of their office, each magistrate is personally responsible for compliance with all procedures for the handling of the monies of their magisterial office and proper recordkeeping related thereto and shall regularly, but no less than monthly, review bank statements and other records to insure such compliance.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that each magistrate court of this State shall fully cooperate in a timely manner with the audits made by appropriate officials of their respective counties or of this State except where to do so would be at variance with this or any other Order of this Court or the published procedures of the Office of South Carolina Court Administration or where otherwise authorized in writing by Order of this Court or the Director of the Office of South Carolina Court Administration.  Upon appropriate request by State or local officials, the magistrate court shall immediately make available and provide access, including computer access, to all official court records and documents for full inspection by appropriate officials.  Such records and documents shall include but not be limited to banking and financial accounts and statements, canceled checks, bills, receipts, cash, money orders, drafts, charging papers, and dockets.  The appropriate official may retain the original records and documents but shall provide the magistrate court with a receipt for records and documents, and shall provide the court with copies of documents retained, if necessary for the operation of the magistrate court.

These financial recordkeeping standards are minimum standards.  This Order revokes and supersedes all previous Orders by the Chief Justice addressing individual financial recordkeeping standards in specific counties.  This Order further revokes those previous Orders of the Chief Justice addressing financial recordkeeping standards in the magistrate’s courts of this State, including those Orders dated July 7, 1977 concerning court bank accounts, July 22, 1983 concerning numbered receipts, July 12, 1984 concerning remittances to County Treasurers, July 17, 1987 concerning records retention and required disclosures, December 14, 1987 concerning public notice of receipts, and November 9, 1999 concerning financial recordkeeping standards. 

The provisions of this Order are effective on September 15, 2006, and shall remain in effect unless amended or revoked by further Order of the Chief Justice. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

 

s/ Jean Hoefer Toal                                     

 

Jean Hoefer Toal

 

Chief Justice

September 7, 2006
Columbia, South Carolina