COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Chester County magistrate who is the wife of the current sheriff has been publicly reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court because she wasn’t disclosing her relationship before every case she heard involving the sheriff’s office.
Angel Underwood accepted Wednesday’s reprimand, promising she will tell all defendants at the start of their cases that her husband is Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and give them time to talk to a lawyer before having her preside over their hearing, according to the ruling from the justices.
The reprimand points out there have been no complaints about Angel Underwood’s decisions on bond amounts or other rulings.
The Supreme Court lifted the interim suspension it gave Underwood in May 2015. The public reprimand will be Angel Underwood’s only punishment as long as she follows the rules.
She had been announcing her relationship before a court session started, but the justices said that wasn’t enough.
South Carolina Court Administration started investigating the matter when it found Underwood’s judge code was used in more than 100 sheriff’s office cases after her husband became sheriff in 2013. Her husband was a retired State Law Enforcement Division agent when she was appointed a magistrate in May 2011.
Investigators checked a sample of records in Chester County and confirmed Underwood had presided over those cases.
Alex Underwood is running this year for a second term as Chester County sheriff.
Alex and Angel Underwood met while both were SLED agents.