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History of Richland County Court Administration

To understand where Court Administration is today, one must know where we started so many years ago.  On April 1, 1979, Traffic Court was created mainly to offer the South Carolina Highway Patrol a Central location in which to have the traffic cases heard.  Traffic Court was created with it’s own budget as a separate department.  Tom Murtiashaw served as the Court Administrator.

Bond Court already existed under the control of Chief Magistrate Walter Jones, who was the Columbia Magistrate. Bond Court and the Columbia Magistrate’s Office were located at 1328 Huger Street, Columbia, South Carolina.  This location was chosen to house the new Traffic Court.  The staff members actually worked in what was the hallway of the Columbia Magistrate’s office.  At that time, the office was adjacent to the Richland County Detention Center on Huger Street.

In June of 1981, Traffic Court moved to the second floor of the Richland County Judicial Center at 1701 Main Street, Columbia.  Bond Court continued to be located at 1328 Huger Street to be convenient to the jail. There was a total Bond Court staff of seven employees.  By this time Traffic Court, now officially named Court Administration, was handling all Traffic cases made in the county, all Preliminary Hearings, and all Jury Trials stemming from the Traffic cases. When Judge William T. Smith became the Chief Magistrate, Bond Court was combined in the budget with Traffic Court.  In April of 1991, Sharon Turner became the Court Administrator.

In 1995, Court Administration started a Central Civil Court, handling Summons and Complaints and Claim and Deliveries for the citizens of the County.  In the beginning, the Central Civil Court office was located in a break room at end of the hall on the second floor of the courthouse at 1701 Main.

In 1995, Bond Court was relocated to the new Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center at 201 John Mark Dial Drive.  The old detention center was demolished along with the Columbia Magistrate Office.  The former Richland County Sheriff’s Department building on 1400 Huger Street was all that remained.  It was renovated and became home to Court Administration in February 1996.  At that time, once called Traffic Court, Court Administration adopted the working name of "Central Court" at the Huger Street location.

A centralized court in Richland County had always been the dream of Judge Walter Jones.  In 1999, after his death, the Central Court facility was renamed in his honor as the "Walter Jones, Sr. Central Court Facility." After Judge Jones’ retirement in 1998, Judge Michael Davis served as the Chief Magistrate followed by Judge Samuel Peay.

In 2000, Judge W. H. Womble became the Chief Magistrate and in 2002, under his direction, Court Administration received a Violence Against Women Act Grant and formulated a Central Criminal Domestic Violence Court, processing magistrate level Criminal Domestic Violence cases made in Richland County. The CDV Court still exists today and operates, in part, based on a federal grant.

As of July 2003, the yearly 1860 Account budget for Court Administration alone was nearly one million dollars.  The VAWA Grant CDV budget was approximately $87,000.00 to include the grant match. Wanda Kelly, who served as the VAWA Project Director for the CDV Court Grant and as the Deputy Court Administrator,  became the Court Administrator on January 12, 2004.

In addition to housing Central Court employees, the Central Court Facility also serves as an office to the three Administrative Magistrates. 

Court Administration, as it exists today, is broken into seven divisions consisting of Traffic Court, Jury Trials, Preliminary Hearings, Criminal Domestic Violence Court, Civil Court, Cashier Office, and Bond Court. There are a total of 29 employees on staff to include 18 on site at Huger Street and 11 at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

Last Traffic Session at 1701 Main Street.

Last Traffic Session at 1701 Main Street.

Central Court before renovations (old detention center location).

Central Court before renovations (old detention center location).

Cashier’s office at 1400 Huger Street being constructed.

Cashier’s office at 1400 Huger Street being constructed.

  Lobby wall art.

Lobby wall art.

Retired judges in 1998 (feft to right): Judges Toal, Sims, Burriss, Hill, Eisenhower, Tokunaga, and Jones.

Retired judges in 1998 (feft to right): Judges Toal, Sims, Burriss, Hill, Eisenhower,
Tokunaga, and Jones.

Sitting judges in 1998 (left to right):Judges W. T. Smith, Golie Augustus, Michael Davis, W. H. Womble, Samuel Peay, Judge Hardy, Harold Cuff, D. J. Simons, and Mel Maurer.

Sitting judges in 1998 (left to right):Judges W. T. Smith, Golie Augustus, Michael Davis,
W. H. Womble, Samuel Peay, Judge Hardy, Harold Cuff, D. J. Simons, and Mel Maurer.

Judges sworn in at Central Court in 1999

Judges sworn in at Central Court in 1999

Left to right: Judge Shealy, Judge Augustus, Judge Stocker, Judge Womble, Chief Justice Toal, and Judge Cuff

 Left to right:  Judge Shealy, Judge Augustus, Judge Stocker, Judge Womble,
Chief Justice Toal, and Judge Cuff

Left to right: Judge Davis, Judge Surles, Judge Hudnell, Judge Peay, Chief Justice Toal, Judge Maurer, Judge Simons, Judge Newsom.

Left to right:  Judge Davis, Judge Surles, Judge Hudnell, Judge Peay, Chief Justice Toal,
Judge Maurer, Judge Simons, Judge Newsom.

 

Most of the Central Court office with Ann McClain at Wild Wings in March 2009.

Most of the Central Court office with Ann McClain at an office gathering.

Supervisors at the Central Court location: Wanda Kelly, Verna Johnson, Sara Sellers, Jessica Refo, Ann McClain, Michele Winslow, and Rhudine Dorch

Supervisors at the Central Court location:  Wanda Kelly, Verna Johnson, Sara Sellers,
Jessica Refo, Ann McClain, Michele Winslow, and Rhudine Dorch

Traffic Division: Faye Landrum, Kesha Bibbs, Rhonda McColman, Tracey Delaney, and Michele Winslow

Traffic Division:  Faye Landrum, Kesha Bibbs, Rhonda McColman, Tracey Delaney,
and Michele Winslow

Jury Trial division: Crystal Hanna, Sara Sellers, Margaret Cannon

Jury Trial division:  Crystal Hanna, Sara Sellers, Margaret Cannon

Cashier Division: Melissa Collins, Verna Johnson, and Rachelle Lundberg

Cashier Division:  Melissa Collins, Verna Johnson, and Rachelle Lundberg

Civil/CDV Division: Margie Barnes, Rhonda McColman, Jessica Refo

Civil/CDV Division: Margie Barnes, Rhonda McColman, Jessica Refo

Preliminary Hearings Division: Cynthia Legree-Long, Ann McClain, and Ginny Rabon.

Preliminary Hearings Division:  Cynthia Legree-Long, Ann McClain, and Ginny Rabon.

Photo of Richland County Central Court Staff

Bond Court Division Night Shift:  Latoya Newton, Alendy Folgar-Rodriguez, Sammelia White, Donall Brown (Asst. Mgr.)

Photo of Richland County Central Court Staff

Bond Court Division AM shift:  Amber Carnes, Melvin Samuels, Gloria Edmonds (Manager), Joyce Picket

Photo of Richland County Central Court Staff

Bond Court Division AM shift and night shift: Khadijah Sutton, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurie Birchmore, Latoya Newton, Alendy Folgar-Rodriguez, Donall Brown (Asst. Mgr.), and Sammelia White