The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Lawyer-Legislator Protection During the Legislative Session
On May 18, 2017, an Administrative Order regarding "Lawyer-Legislator Protection during the Legislative Session" was issued. That order is withdrawn and this order is substituted in its place.
This order supersedes the April 21, 2010 and June 21, 2013 orders issued by the Chief Justice concerning lawyers who serve as members of the General Assembly and who at times are unable to appear in any court, deposition, or administrative hearing during the legislative session.
I find that lawyers who serve as members of the General Assembly provide a great service to the citizens of this State and, at times, are unable to appear for trials, hearings, or depositions during the legislative session. I further find that these lawyer-legislators are often threatened with sanctions for their inability to appear when requested.
I further find that the uncertainty of the availability of lawyer-legislators is disruptive to the orderly and efficient use of court time and resources. I further find that the inflexible insistence that lawyer-legislators be available whenever the court or lawyers request their presence is not only detrimental to the clients of the lawyer-legislators but also creates unnecessary angst for all concerned.
Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that lawyers who are members of the General Assembly are granted absolute protection from being called to a deposition, or a trial or hearing in any court of this State or any administrative tribunal of this State from the first Tuesday in January until July 31. This protection extends to those times when the General Assembly votes on vetoes of the General Appropriation bill. Further, lawyer-legislators are similarly protected during any special or called session after the regular session ends. Hearings, trials, or depositions may be scheduled during these time periods if the lawyer-legislator consents to the hearing, deposition, or trial being set and is given proper notice. A decision to waive protection to appear at a particular hearing shall not be interpreted as a general waiver of the absolute protection granted herein for that case or any cases or hearings.
This matter will be continuously monitored for compliance and any necessary adjustments.
This order takes effect immediately and remains in effect unless amended or rescinded by the Chief Justice.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
May 19, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina