The Investiture Ceremony for Judge Martelle T. Morrison was held on July 17th, 2015 in the City of North Charleston Council Chambers. Judge Morrison will serve as the Magistrate for the Ravenel/Adams Run Area Magistrate Court of Charleston County. Gruenloh Law Associate Brian Holmes, who formerly served alongside Judge Morrison at the Charleston County Probate Court, and intern James Todd attended the ceremony to support Judge Morrison in this new and exciting chapter of his legal career.
One of the powers vested in the Senate is the power to make political appointments. For the state senator, magistrate appointments are the greatest of their appointment privileges. In South Carolina, a magistrate is a judge who presides overs small criminal and civil cases in the county they are appointed. They have criminal jurisdiction over offenses with the penalty of a fine, generally up to $500.00 or 30 days of jail time. Magistrates also issue arrest and search warrants, set bail, and hold preliminary hearings. On the civil side, they have jurisdiction over cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $7,500. Magistrates are appointed to a four-year term. At the end of each term, the respective county’s senate delegation sends a list of appointees for approval by the Governor’s office and then for a confirmation vote in the full senate. The 2015 year saw the appointment of five new magistrates including Judge Martelle T. Morrison who is replacing Magistrate Jacquetta Jones.
A sizeable crowd of Judge Morrison’s friends and family attended the ceremony along with many other notable South Carolina politicans and legal professionals. The event featured speakers Michelle Condon, South Carolina House Representative J. Seth Whipper, and Former Municipal Court Judge Arthur C. McFarland cracking jokes and imparting wisdom to the newly appointed Magistrate. Judge Morrison was sworn in by none other than the Honorable Richard E. Fields, a Retired Circuit Court Judge and respected jurist whose historic and illustrious legal career spanned decades.
While mostly lighthearted, the ceremony also held a somber tone as a lone portrait of former South Carolina Senator Clementa Pinckney sat in a position of honor overlooking the ceremony. Senator Pinckney, whose life was tragically taken in the June 17, 2015 shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church, appointed Judge Morrison as one of his last official acts prior to his death. South Carolina Senator Marlon E. Kimpson, a close friend of Senator Pinckney, attended the ceremony in his stead.
Perhaps the most lingering aspect of the ceremony was the emphasis on family and community. Judge Morrison’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Morrison, held the Bible during his Oath of Office and Judge Morrison’s parents conducted the robing. In Judge Morrison’s closing remarks he alluded to the lessons and support he has received from his family as the reason he has made it to where he is today.
Judge Morrison, who received his J.D. from the Charleston School of Law in 2010, joins a select few in his appointment as a Magistrate, and an even smaller group to have done so by the age of 30. Indeed, the ceremony was inspirational and promising for the future of Judge Morrison and the Ravanel-Adams Run community.