CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Summons for jury duty will soon be mailed out as in-person hearings and jury trials begin in less than two weeks.
Circuit courts across South Carolina are dealing with thousands of backlogged cases.
The 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office says it has around 700 backlogged cases, but considers itself in good standing.
“Horry County and Georgetown County, the 15th circuit, is number one in the state as far as lack of backlog. Because we have continued to work through the pandemic, we’ve moved 69% of our cases within the on year,” said 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
The State Supreme Court halted in-person hearings and trials twice in 2020.
Richardson says his office worked through the pandemic and the court followed through with cases that did not require a jury.
Preliminary hearings, plea deals, and sentencings were done virtually.
“It came at a cost with a little bit of product, but it is much better than sitting back and doing nothing. There are going to be other places in the state that are going to be much more hurt by this than we are,” said Richardson.
On March 15th, jury selection will begin.
Richardson says his office and public defenders agreed to trying their most serious cases first.
“With an emphasis being on those people that are still incarcerated. We will be working through those 20 people. Most of them are murders, rapes, really bad stuff,” said Richardson.
Dozens of defense teams across the state have filed motions saying rights to a fair and speedy trial were violated when courts closed.
All of them have withered away, because the recognition is there is a pandemic and if we could’ve tried you, we would’ve,” said Richardson.
Potential jurors can expect jury summons to arrive in the mail, along with a COVID screening questionnaire to be completed before going to court.