Our founder, Ryan Beasley, was interviewed on WSPA this week talking about some of the things happening with the South Carolina court system in relation to COVID-19.
You can watch the entire video here, but we decided to share some of the key points he made:
Quick overview of what is happening in courts?
In person hearings have been shut down since March, but you can still meet with your attorney to discuss you cases. A lot of non-violent offender cases have been moved quickly through the system using video conferencing only. That has helped reduce the jail population.
What is happening with jury trials?
All jury trials are suspended until August per the Chief Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court. When August comes around, the Supreme Court is going to pick one county in the state to have a jury term of court as a test run to see what issues will arise or come about, and what solutions will need to be made to make the trial week run smoothly. The county has not been announced. It appears to be a very complicated process with social distancing. Jury trials are not meant for social distancing. You will have 12-14 jurors in a jury box at any point, and they are only a foot apart. Not to mention you will have to accommodate the defendant, a defense lawyer, a prosecutor, victims, and the like.
Also, during jury trial weeks, usually more than 100 jurors are summoned for the week along with dozens of defendants each day. That is going to make it a challenge to comply with social distancing
Criminal courts and civil courts are open on a limited basis for guilty pleas, bond hearings, non-jury hearings and motions, which means these have to be scheduled ahead of time. The hearings will be staggered and defendants may be appearing by video conferencing
What should people facing criminal charges or involved in a civil case be doing?
Stay in contact with your attorney. If you don’t have one, you need to get one because that will help your case keep moving. One important thing about civil cases during this time is that the lawyers and parties involved can still move forward with the discovery process. The discovery process involves the exchanging of documents and other relevant information by the parties as well as depositions which can be done remotely.