• Questions raised after 4 magistrates out of a job in Chester County

    By: Greg Suskin


    CHESTER, S.C. - Multiple sources have confirmed to Channel 9 that four Chester County magistrate judges will not be reappointed to their posts.

    Their names are listed on the Chester County website: Barbara Cameron, Wylie Frederick, Lenard Price and Yale Zamore.   

    Only Chief Magistrate Angel Underwood is being recommended for reappointment to another four-year term. Underwood is the wife of Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, who was just indicted on multiple criminal counts.

    Magistrates hear hundreds of cases every month. They are the first judges someone often stands in front of and decide if people stay in jail or not. The judges also handle trials and civil matters.

    In South Carolina, the local state senator recommends magistrates for the job, and the governor officially appoints them. 

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    Sources said, traditionally, the governor always approves the candidates the state senator provides.

    Channel 9 wanted to find out why qualified and longtime judges in Chester County are no longer working.

    State Sen. Mike Fanning made the decision not to recommend the four other judges to continue serving. Several people brought the issue to Channel 9 because Fanning is close to the Underwood family. 

    On the day the FBI raided the Sheriff's Office in April, Fanning posted on Facebook, urging the community to stand by Alex Underwood.  The senator also posts pictures of them together socially, including at a dinner last weekend. 

    [Interim sheriff sworn in after Chester County indictments handed down]

    Channel 9 was unable to contact on Fanning Friday but talked to him about the issue last week.   

    He said his goal was to make the entire process of choosing magistrates more open and transparent than it used to be.   

    The magistrate position was publicly advertised, and Fanning said more than 80 people applied. He also got a committee together to review all the applications.

    When asked about why Angel Underwood was kept as a judge and the others weren't, Fanning said he couldn't discuss specifics. 

    That's because he said the new judges were not yet in place, and he said he couldn't and get ahead of the process by speaking out now.

    The four current magistrate judges not returning have all received letters informing them they won't be reappointed. 

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