Courts in South Carolina
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The courts in South Carolina include a state court system and two federal courts.
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state.
The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from the lower courts except for cases regarding the death penalty, public utility rates, significant constitutional issues, public bond issues, election laws, and order limiting the investigation by a state grand jury, and an order of a family court relating to an abortion of a minor. These seven types of cases appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
The Circuit Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction. They can also hear some appeals from the Probate, Magistrate's and Municipal Courts and the Administrative Law Judge Division. The Circuit Court includes the Court of Common Pleas, which is the civil court, and the Court of General Sessions, which is the criminal court. There are 16 judicial circuits in South Carolina, with at least one resident judge per circuit.
The 21 Masters-In-Equity are appointed by the Governor and have the authority of the Circuit Court in these matters. They do not hold jury trials.
The Family Courts have jurisdiction over domestic and family matters such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, etc.
These courts is made up of magistrates which are appointed to a certain county. Magistrates have jurisdiction of small criminal and civil trials. They also set bail, issue warrants, and conduct preliminary hearings.
The Municipal Courts have the same powers as magistrates in regards to criminal trials, but have no civil jurisdiction.
The Probate Court in each county which deals with marriage licenses, minor settlements (under $25,000), the estates of the deceased, guardianships and involuntary commitments to mental institutions.
Appeals go to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.