Judge orders Charleston County Deeds Registry Office to adopt 15-step plan to end backlog
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A judge has approved an agreement to clear up a backlog of real estate documents waiting to be processed at the Charleston County Deeds Registry Office, which includes office staff staggering lunch and weekend shifts. ends of work to catch up.
The order, filed Thursday by Judge Roger Young, approves a strategy recommended by court-appointed real estate attorney Howard Yates, who was brought in to oversee operations at the office as well as the Charleston County Deeds Registry, Michael Miller.
The court order lists a 15-point strategy that includes accepting help from the Dorchester County Deeds Registry and its staff, increasing the hours of operation of the Charleston County office to include Saturdays and Sundays and the requirement that staff members stagger their lunch breaks so that the office can remain open even during lunch hours.
The court order states the following actions the office will take to clear the backlog:
- Hire experienced deed registry staff in neighboring counties to help prepare and register the documents.
- Hand stamp documents delivered to the Charleston County Deed Registry office for registration with the date they were received, in accordance with SC Code Ann. § 30-5-90 (1976).
- Continue to accept the assistance of Mrs. Margaret T. Bailey, of the Dorchester County Deeds Registry, and three of her staff, in preparing the papers for registration each Saturday for eight hours and for four hours on Sundays until that the backlog in the filing of documents be eliminated.
- Have imaging staff work an additional two hours a day, plus Saturdays and Sundays, until the filing backlog is cleared.
- Arrange for specially modified computers to be made available to indexing staff from home for after-hours and weekend indexing.
- Have indexing staff work two extra hours a day, plus Saturdays and Sundays, until the filing backlog is cleared.
- Train visiting Dorchester County Deed Registry Office staff on the Charleston County Imaging System and use trained Dorchester County Deed Registry Office staff to index each Saturday for eight hours and for four hours on Sunday until the backlog in filing documents is cleared.
- Include the designation “pp” for personal property, “esmt” for easement, or “etc” for additional property such as a swamp, to indexed documents in addition to listing the lot, block, and subdivision.
- Extend the daily recording time from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Ensure that the Deeds Registry Office remains open to the public for regular business transactions, including registration of documents, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Employees must take their breaks, including lunch breaks, on staggered shifts and if it is necessary to contact an employee who is on break, then a cell phone must be used.
- Request additional memory from the county’s computer server, should it become necessary to cope with the increased daily document load.
- Ensure that employees are trained in recording, imaging and indexing documents.
- Registers, whatever the mode of delivery, the documents received in the order of the times when they can be brought to the court office.
- Continue to provide truthful and accurate updates in writing regarding the status of the backlog, the effectiveness of the measures adopted here, and the availability of experienced staff to employ pursuant to the terms of this Order to the Court on a bi-weekly basis , with these articles to be sent to the Court and the parties’ attorneys by e-mail before 5:00 p.m. every Friday, beginning Friday, February 19, 2022. These articles must contain the date on which the mail was opened and marked received, the remaining number of document batches and specific date(s) up to which documents were prepared, registered, imaged and indexed, respectively.
- Adopt any other recommendations the Court may subsequently direct to address the delays and backlog in the registration of documents
The recommendations and agreement come after Miller was named in a lawsuit in November alleging “willful default and/or negligence” over how long his office records real estate documents.
Young’s order said that after Yates began his investigation, “it became very quickly apparent that the problem was more than just the immediate filing of newly filed and pending documents.”
“It also became apparent that there was no instant solution to the problem,” Young wrote. “There were many issues that needed to be addressed in a systematic way. Mr. Yates identified and addressed each. His report, which Mr. Miller adopted, addresses short-term problems and solutions and hopefully will lead to long-term solutions as well.
The order states that Miller has agreed to implement the recommendations suggested by Yates and that the court will continue to retain jurisdiction in the matter.
The purpose of the order, Young wrote, “is not to blame”.
“It goes without saying that the reasons for the current situation are disputed and complex. This interim resolution will hopefully result in a permanent solution,” Young wrote. “It is important to note that this action was not brought as an attempt to remove the current ROD from office. Indeed, South Carolina courts generally do not have the power to remove an elected official from his office. duly elected office Only the Governor of the State has such power, and even these powers are limited.
The order says the court believes the course of action “will be the best way to remedy the problems facing this office, at least in the short term.”
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