[image-1] The Charleston County Probate Court is probably best known as the place where love-struck residents can get a marriage license. But the four-year judgeship deals with much more than legalizing weddings. The court adjudicates wills, resolves disputes involving estates and trusts, appoints guardians and conservators, and handles involuntary commitments for alcohol and drug abuse or mental illness.
The gap between what the court does and what people know is part of what Democrat Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley, a former Summary Court judge and a Trident Tech psychology professor, wants to fix.
“We want to demystify the functions of the Probate Court,” she said in an interview with CP. She wants to make the court more “user-friendly” by expanding workshops that raise awareness of its functions before people even need them. Still, it’s an uphill battle to go against incumbent Probate Judge Irv Condon, a Republican who has served in the role since he was first elected in 1994.
Condon wants to continue focusing on his office’s mental health court and adult drug court, both of which were started under his leadership after visits to jurisdictions that already had similar efforts in place. A veterans’ treatment court, headed by a judge who is a former U.S. Marine, is expected to begin in November. “Instead of sending them to prison, we have them in the community under court supervision, and they advance through phases and end up graduating the program clean and sober, hopefully employed, or better educated,” Condon said.
We have doubts over whether judgeships should be popularly elected, and think they should at least be nonpartisan. We do not see any reason why Judge Irv Condon should be replaced. —Editorial Staff