A longtime Beaufort County magistrate will begin holding office hours at the St. Helena Branch Library starting Monday.
From 1 to 4 p.m., Magistrate Joseph Kline will be available to explain legal procedures, provide forms for filing restraining orders or small-claims cases, and discuss other legal issues.
Magistrates can't give specific legal advice but can help citizens in other ways, according to Beaufort County Magistrate Court administrator Stephanie Garst.
"We assist the community with whatever we can without giving legal advice," Kline added. "Basically, the idea there is to be a judicial information resource."
Kline was a Beaufort County councilman for 18 years before he was appointed as Sheldon's magistrate in 1997. He will continue holding office hours from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays at the Lobeco Branch Library in Sheldon.
Going to the libraries to visit Kline will be quicker for some residents than a trip to Magistrate Court offices in the Arthur Horne Building off Ribaut Road in Beaufort or at 4819 Bluffton Parkway in Bluffton.
Another magistrate, Rod Sproatt, once kept office hours on St. Helena Island but stopped last March when he was appointed chief magistrate.
Kline expects residents on St. Helena will continue seeking advice about concerns they've long shared with him. For example, residents often visit his office to ask questions about family disputes, he said.
"A lot of times it just needs to be talked through," Kline said. "You sort of need to be like the modern day Solomon."