January 28, 2015
Michael D. Hall, Petitioner,
State of South Carolina, South Carolina Attorney General, Solicitor for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, South Carolina Department of Corrections and City of Greenwood, Respondents.
We agreed to consider Petitioner Hall's allegations of unfairness in our original jurisdiction "to determine what relief, if any, may be available to inmates who are being adversely affected by unserved [arrest] warrants." Hall v. State, SC Sup. Ct. Order (filed August 14, 2014). On December 9, 2014, we heard oral arguments concerning the practices and procedures for serving arrest warrants on persons incarcerated in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).
We conclude that complaints of SCDC inmates concerning adverse impacts resulting from unserved arrest warrants can be resolved by administrative action. It appears that local law enforcement is often unaware of the SCDC's Office of General Counsel's policy that it will be responsible for serving arrest warrants on SCDC inmates, if those warrants are forwarded to it. This policy is reflected in a 1986 memorandum issued by the South Carolina Judicial Department's Office of Court Administration, and reiterated in that Office's February 2012 memorandum. In order to help disseminate this SCDC policy, we republish the pertinent part of these memoranda below:
The Office of General Counsel at the SCDC has requested that all warrants to be served upon any inmate within the Department be forwarded to their office for subsequent service. Court Administration endorses this request as the warrants could then be transmitted, by corrections personnel, to the particular institution where the individual is housed with instructions as to proper service. Such warrants can then be forwarded to one central location allowing their tracking and service.
It is now requested that all warrants to be served upon inmates who are in the custody of the SCDC be transmitted to:
Office of General Counsel
South Carolina Department of Corrections
4444 Broad River Road
Columbia, SC 29210
We order that Court Administration distribute a copy of this order to all summary court judges and clerks of court. We direct all magistrates, municipal court judges, and clerks of court to notify law enforcement officers of this order when an arrest warrant is issued, and to make copies of the order available. Finally, we dismiss this matter in our original jurisdiction as the issue raised by Petitioner Hall is now moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Jean H. Toal C.J., Costa M. Pleicones J., Donald W. Beatty J., John W. Kittredge J., Kaye G. Hearn J.