Solicitor’s office impacted by COVID, courts won’t bring in juries until it’s safe

Coronavirus

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The 15th Circuit Court Solicitor’s Office says several staff members have been tested for COVID-19 after being exposed by Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

Richardson says his positive diagnosis was given on Saturday.

“As much as you tell people be careful, wear a mask, social distance, when you see somebody that you’re very close to gets it, then it becomes real,” said Richardson.

Six staff members, including attorneys, investigators, and office secretaries are now working from home, waiting for their results.

Richardson’s efforts to separate staff helped cut the number of people in the solicitor’s office in half at any given time, since the start of the pandemic.

“I’ve told our people to come in and make 40 hours any way they can. If that is third shift and they are working midnight to eight, that’s fine,” said Richardson.

Jury trials are not currently being held, but plea deals are being heard.

Richardson says in recent weeks his staff became lenient with CDC guidelines.

“I’ve gotten some reports from others that our people hadn’t done as good a job with wearing the masks in court, so I’ve got on to them about that,” said Richardson.

Moving forward mask wearing will enforced while in court.

“Our policies will remain the same. We’ve had pretty strict policies, but I think we will do them in a better way,” said Richardson.

Richardson says jury trials have been pushed back twice already, but could begin as early as August.

He does not believe his positive results will impact court cases, as attorneys are able to work from home.

The solicitor’s office has recently worked with circuit court judges, the clerk’s office, and the public defender on how trials could look.

But Richardson says the court will not bring in a jury until it’s safe.

“If this continues on, if other people were to get sick and you would have a significant portion of your office, or the public defender’s office, that came down with COVID, obviously that comes into play. We don’t want to bring any jurors in when there’s a possibility,” said Richardson.

The solicitor says he is on the mend, but encourages anyone with symptoms to get tested.

“They really scared the bejesus out of everybody with this q tip. If that’s what’s keeping you away from it, it’s not that bad,” said Richardson.

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