On Thursday, June 20, 2024, The Post and Courier reported that Tommy G. Mourounas, a magistrate judge in Florence County, South Carolina, had been suspended from his position by the state Supreme Court. According to the article, Mourounas failed to report for duty on numerous occasions.

As a result of this “dereliction of duty,” which Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty called “an unacceptable affront to the fair administration of justice and the courts,” Mourounas was immediately suspended without pay by the Supreme Court on June 17th. In its written order, the Court shared the significance of this ruling by distributing a copy to all other summary court judges across the state.

Suspending judges for failing to attend work is not unprecedented – the article notes two similar suspensions of magistrates in Georgetown and Spartanburg counties earlier in 2023. When asked about Mourounas’ suspension, the Florence County Magistrate Court did not provide any additional details to The Post and Courier.

This suspension of Mourounas marks the latest in a string of state Supreme Court actions against judges over the past year. Most notably, the Court placed David Lamar Little Jr., a municipal court judge in Dorchester County, on interim suspension in November 2023. Little also temporarily lost his law license.

As of June 19th, 2024, when the article was written, Little’s profile on the South Carolina Bar Association website still listed his status as “not in good standing” and noted he remained under interim suspension. Little had been admitted to the Bar in 1998 and oversaw traffic, code violations, and minor criminal cases in St. George, South Carolina.

In suspending judges like Mourounas and Little, the state Supreme Court acts on petitions filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. This office investigates complaints against both judges and lawyers to review allegations of misconduct outside of criminal proceedings.

When suspending Little, the Court appointed replacements to assume his caseload – Kelly K. Muckenfuss as a municipal judge in Harleyville, and Peyre T. Lumpkin to handle any of Little’s remaining legal clients. However, no such temporary replacements were noted in addressing Mourounas’ “dereliction of duty” through his suspension without pay by the Supreme Court.

 

 

Source: The Post and Courier