Former magistrate has day in court

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With positive outcome

By Stan Welch – A long journey through the legal system he once served has come to a happy end for former Powdersville magistrate Mike Smith. In June of 2007, Smith, already stripped of his office, was acquitted on charges of assault resulting from an incident in a Williamston bar. Smith had been accused of improperly touching a woman during that incident. He was found not guilty after witnesses testified that the woman had been overheard planning to make the claim before hand.

Smith later met with the woman and recorded her offer to drop the charge in exchange for money.

A DUI charge that came to trial in February 2012, later took longer to resolve. Smith’s original attorney argued properly, according to a subsequent ruling on appeal, that the deputy who made the arrest failed to properly account for the failure of his dashboard camera to record the field sobriety tests and associated acts during the arrest.

That argument went unheeded and Smith was convicted of the charge. The conviction did not stand. A week ago, Smith returned to court where the outcome was completely different.

David Standeffer, the Greenville attorney who handled Smith’s appeal, told The Journal that a sworn affidavit is required in such an instance. The officer in question failed to provide one, offering a hand written statement instead. Upon appeal, Judge Buddy Nicholson dismissed the case against Smith.

“The judge ruled properly that the law had not been followed. There are two cases that went to the S.C. Supreme Court that were directly on point. They made it clear what the requirements are in such a case. It was just as clear that those requirements were not met in my client’s case”, said Standeffer.

He added that the State has a right to appeal but doesn’t expect such a step. “The case shouldn’t have been brought to begin with in my opinion. Judge Nicholson ruled from the bench in open court. I think we’ve seen the end of this at last.”

For his part, Smith acknowledged that being in a public place consuming alcohol was a bad idea. “I’ve been in law enforcement one way or the other for all my life. I have lost a great deal through this process, but I have learned a great deal as well.”