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SC Supreme Court: Non-lawyers must not prosecute

Sep 7, 2010 12:45:00 PM - thestate.com
The State Supreme Court ruled this morning in a 3-2 decision that public prosecutors — not private companies — must prosecute routine cases in criminal magistrates’ courts.

The ruling may have statewide implications because up to now, some solicitors assign staff lawyers to prosecute minor cases in magistrates’ court.

Tuesday's ruling came out of a Richland County magistrate’s court dispute in two bad-check cases.

In those 2009 cases, a non-lawyer for a local business attempted to act as prosecutor. At the same time, both defendants were represented by real lawyers from 5th Circuit Public Defender Doug Strickler’s office.

In those cases, Public Defender’s lawyers moved to dismiss the criminal cases against their clients. They argued that if the magistrate allowed the non-lawyers to prosecute the case, that would be the unauthorized practice of law. The matter was then appealed.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)