Municipal Court

Kiawah Island's Municipal Court is one of about 200 municipal courts across South Carolina and was established in 1996 after the Town of Kiawah Island was created.  It is part of the unified judicial system of South Carolina.  It is, therefore, separate from and independent of the Town government, although State law requires that the Town finance the court.  

The court's geographic jurisdiction encompasses all of Kiawah Island, including the roundabout at Betsy Kerrison Parkway.  Its subject matter jurisdiction is limited to criminal cases involving a violation of state laws or town ordinances, where the penalty is a fine not exceeding $500 plus state assessments and/or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.  In the case of fines, state law requires that a collection of assessments be added to a fine that exceeds the amount of the fine itself.  There are also specific state statutes that grant municipal courts jurisdiction over other cases involving specific crimes for which the punishment can be greater than that allowed generally.

The court has many of the same powers as higher courts in South Carolina, including the power to conduct bench trials and jury trials, issue search warrants and arrest warrants, set bail, conduct preliminary hearings, and cite persons for contempt of court. However, the court does not have jurisdiction over civil cases.

Court sessions are generally held monthly, although additional sessions can be, and are, added from time to time.  By calling 843-768-9166, interested persons can learn the specific court dates for each month.  Court sessions are, of course, open to the public, and visitors are welcome.  A brochure entitled The Rules of Practice and Procedure in Municipal Court is available in the courtroom for each session, which describes the court's procedures and the rights of defendants appearing before the court.  Copies of the brochure are also obtainable at Town Hall from the Clerk of the Kiawah Island Municipal Court.  The Mayor and Council appoint the Judge of the Kiawah Island Municipal Court for a term of three years.

Town of Kiawah Island Chief Municipal Judge: Sanford K. Ain

Clerk of Court: Sherry Fortson SFORTSON@KIAWAHISLAND.ORG

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Judge Sanford K. Ain

On Tuesday, January 5, 2020, the Town's new Municipal Court Judge Sanford K. Ain, Esquire, was appointed by Picture1Town Council and sworn in by Judge Strauch.  Judge Ain received his B.A. at the University of Wisconsin, B.A.  Cum Laude and attended law school at Georgetown University Law Center.  He is a member of the Supreme Court of the United States and a member of the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland State Bars, and a fellow for the American College for Trial Lawyers.  He is a founding Partner of Ain & Bank, P.C. and a lecturer with the Virginia Trial Lawyers.
Association, Maryland State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, Virginia State Bar, and American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  Judge Ain trained in the Kiawah Municipal Count under Judge Strauch's direction until his term expired in March 2019.  He will serve for a term of three years.