State Supreme Court suspends Berkeley County magistrate judge

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 2:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2023 at 5:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A Berkeley County magistrate has been suspended after being accused of failing to report for duty multiple times over the past six months.

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty signed a court order suspending Berkeley County Magistrate Ava Bryant for 90 days without pay, effective immediately, on Thursday.

In the order, Beatty writes that Bryant “failed to report for duty at Berkeley County Magistrate Court on at least 29 days within the last six months.”

“Magistrate Bryant devised and implemented a work scheduling scheme that deceptively allowed her to take multiple unauthorized days off during the work week while appearing to be at work,” court documents state. “Magistrate Bryant directed the clerks in her office not to schedule hearings for her to preside over on numerous days each month, and would not report to her office on those days, despite her status as a full-time magistrate judge.”

Beatty wrote that violates a previous order he issued in November of 2021.

“Magistrate Bryant was fully aware of this order and devised the deceptive work schedule to circumvent the requirement to work the hours for which she was being paid,” Beatty wrote. “This dereliction of duty is an unacceptable affront to the fair administration of justice and the courts.”

Beatty ended the order with a warning to all summary court judges, advising them to “carefully evaulate their own procedures and be physically present during working hours.”