The coronavirus affected almost every aspect of life for South Carolinians, including how we handle legal matters. The courts throughout South Carolina had to adjust to the restrictions required to stop the spread of the virus throughout the state. However, companies need to address legal matters. Our South Carolina business attorney continued to assist clients with legal matters, including handling matters that came up before the court.
Are Courts Open in South Carolina?
Yes, courts in South Carolina are open.
However, some courts continue to have restrictions regarding certain operations. Public safety concerns required that the courts take various measures to protect the public and court personnel. The concern became how to achieve justice while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
While courts in South Carolina never closed, the Supreme Court suspended jury trials until further notice. As issues arose in certain jurisdictions, court officials took steps to protect the public, judges, and court personnel. At certain times, some courts only heard emergency cases. However, at this time, all courts in the state are operating and hearing cases.
All jury trials in criminal and civil cases remain continued at this time. According to a Memorandum dated June 3, 2020, from Chief Justice Beatty, judges not previously scheduled for official leave or vacation should operate on a regular schedule. Chief Justice Beatty directed courts to dispose of all pre-trial hearings, status conferences, and pre-trial motions. Continuances for pre-trial matters are only granted in “exceptional circumstances” and for good cause.
Courts are encouraged to use video conferencing to hear nonjury matters to limit in-person contact. However, courts may hold in-person hearings when necessary if the hearings can be held in a reasonably safe manner. Courts should adhere to CDC guidelines for social distancing, including wearing personal protective equipment when appropriate.
What Does This Mean for Your Case?
If you have a pending lawsuit before the court, your matter could come up on the docket for a hearing. The hearing may be held by video conferencing, provided that the matter is a nonjury matter. If we requested a jury trial, the case is continued until further notice. The judicial branch is working diligently to reopen the courts for jury trials as soon as it is safe to do so.
For other cases, we continue to actively work on those cases to prepare them for a lawsuit or negotiate a settlement. Because the courts are open, we can file a lawsuit whenever necessary to protect your best interests. However, we continue to utilize mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution to settle your business dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you have concerns about your case, we encourage you to contact our office. Our goal is to protect your business interests inside and outside of the courtroom. We monitor all cases closely, including deadlines and other requirements. Even though the timeline of your case may change slightly because of the court’s response to COVID-19, we continue to advocate strongly on your behalf during the pandemic. We will take all steps necessary to keep your case moving toward a timely resolution.
Work with an Experienced South Carolina Business Attorney
We continue to serve our clients during this fluid situation. Contact our South Carolina business attorneys if you need help with a legal matter related to your business or company.