CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The jury box in the 15th Circuit Court courtroom has been empty for nearly two months.
Jury trials were supposed to start back up on June 15, but on Wednesday the court announced all 15th Circuit Court trials were being pushed back until at least July.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says the jury selection process is concerning during the pandemic.
“That means bringing in 200-250 people. That’s something we haven’t done yet with social distancing. Might be better to wait until July and start then,” said Richardson.
Concerns also grew for people re-entering the workforce after being laid off our furloughed.
“How would you like to be day one back to work and you’ve got a jury summons?” said Richardson.
Richardson says less crimes are being committed during the pandemic and his office is able to focus on the cases they already have.
“Our first priority will be for people that are presently in jail. That should be a lot of murders. A lot of cases that have been sitting around for a period of time that may have already been scheduled, but for the pandemic, we’re going to try to go through all of those,” said Richardson.
He says the delay will not waste taxpayer dollars.
“If there’s anything it will probably be some savings, because jurors won’t be coming in and coming out of that budget,” said Richardson.
In the meantime, the state will prepare witness lists.
“There shouldn’t be any excuse for not having something ready to go. Prepare [witness lists], contact all of the witnesses, and be able to fill up this trial roster and be very efficient,” said Richardson.
Richardson says pretrial hearings and work will be done by the time trials begin again.
“I think it’ll slow down us down for the time that we’re in this pandemic, but we will be even faster and better when we roll back out hopefully in July,” said Richardson.
An exact date for jury trials to begin has not yet been announced. Check back for details.