SC permits SW issuing judges to testify to PC. But why? It’s a question of law.

Search warrant issuing judges can testify in South Carolina to why they found probable cause. [Why? Probable cause is a question of law everywhere else in the United States.] The omission of some information didn’t change the probable cause analysis, and defendant’s Franks challenge fails. State v. Ostrowski, 2021 S.C. App. LEXIS 142 (Nov. 24, 2021):

n.11: There are limits on when a judge may “testify as a witness concerning actions taken in [her] official capacity.” See In re Whetstone, 354 S.C. 213, 215-16, 580 S.E.2d 447, 448 (2003). However, it is not unheard of for magistrates to testify about the issuing of search warrants. See, e.g., State v. Jones, 342 S.C. 121, 126, 536 S.E.2d 675, 677 (2000); State v. Martin, 347 S.C. 522, 529, 556 S.E.2d 706, 710 (Ct. App. 2001).

Maybe if there’s a bona fide dispute the affiant was actually there, which is seldom if ever.

I tried a federal habeas case when habeas had some meaning (as in over 30 years ago), and the trial judge was called as a witness to his thought processes. I objected, not expecting this development. Right after court, I found plenty of federal appellate case law disapproving of the trial judge testifying to much of anything. The USMJ then struck the testimony.

Wigmore notes that common law permitted it, within discretion. 6 Wigmore, Evidence § 1909 at 769 (Chadbourn rev. 1976). But, if at all, it has to be limited to clearing up ambiguity in a prior order. And, why can’t ambiguity just lead to clarifying litigation. Oftentimes, at least in state courts, the orders are written by the lawyers and submitted to the other side before entry. Ambiguity is what litigation is also for.

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