Newly appointed North Charleston Magistrate Annie Summey-Fuller will stay on the bench, despite some senators’ qualms about the process in which they recommended her.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, expressed concern that he and his colleagues recommended North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey’s daughter for the post — previously held by Summey’s wife Debbie — with little discussion or consideration of others interested.
“I think next time there will be at least a little more communication with the members,” Grooms said Tuesday.
Sen. Robert Ford, a Democrat who represents much of North Charleston, put forth Summey-Fuller’s name to Gov. Nikki Haley. The governor’s office appoints whichever magistrate candidates a local Senate delegation recommends, provided they pass a criminal background check.
Ford said Monday he made a mistake by not opening up the process for the $55,692-a-year post. Summey-Fuller’s term runs through April 2015.
Grooms said he has served on Senate delegations in Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties, and each goes about magistrates appointments a bit differently.
In Charleston County, the senator who represents the geographical area where the magistrate’s office is based is given leeway to recommend who fills that post — provided other senators don’t object.
Summey-Fuller, who graduated from the College of Charleston in 2001 with a communications degree, has worked in law offices and managed Aunt Bea’s, a Summey family restaurant that closed several months ago.
She said she has wanted to serve as a magistrate for a long time, “and I hope to do a good job for the citizens of Charleston County.”
State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, said Summey-Fuller’s appointment was routine. “That’s not accurate to say this is unusual,” he said.
Campsen noted she has worked as a paralegal, and that makes her more qualified than others who have been appointed magistrates.
“Should she be disqualified simply because she is Mayor Summey’s daughter?” he asked. “We have no statutory framework on how we elect magistrates.”
Campsen said he has supported legislation put forth by Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, to reform how magistrates are appointed, but it has not gone anywhere.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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