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Former magistrate receives reprimand

Posted: September 11, 2013 - 11:47am

COLUMBIA -- Don’t show your professional gratitude by kissing an employee.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued a reprimand to a former Aiken County Magistrate for making that mistake.

Donald Louis Hatcher admitted to kissing a clerk on the forehead at the end of a bond court session. He said the kiss wasn’t intended to be a romantic gesture and was only to show appreciation for the clerk’s hard work, according to the court’s reprimand.

Still, said the court, Hatcher, “recognizes the clerk was offended by the gesture. (He) maintains he never would have intentionally offended the clerk, but acknowledges it was inappropriate for him to kiss a subordinate on the forehead.”

The clerk had complained about the incident to the chief magistrate, and Hatcher then resigned.

In the agreement reached with the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Hatcher admitted his behavior violated several judicial canons, including one that requires judges to “be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others” whom they interact with on the job.

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