Magistrate Jury Trial Observations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Supreme Court has issued an Order permitting newly nominated or appointed magistrates to satisfy the circuit court components of their trial observation requirements by viewing recorded jury trial proceedings broadcast online via Cisco WebEx. S.C. Court Administration will notify by email all magistrates who have not completed the required trial observations of broadcast times and access information.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina
Re: Newly Appointed or Nominated Magistrate Jury Trial Observations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Appellate Case No. 2020-000447
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the South Carolina Judicial Branch to alter our courts' normal operating procedures, including continuing many jury trials and limiting attendance at in-person hearings and trials to attorneys, parties, and other necessary persons. Although necessary, these limitations have nevertheless resulted in hardships for newly nominated or appointed magistrates seeking to satisfy the circuit court components of the trial observation requirements of S.C. Code Ann. §22-1-16 (2017).
Based on these hardships, the Court finds it appropriate to allow a newly nominated or appointed magistrate to satisfy the requirements of §22-1-16 (B) (3) and (4) (one criminal and one civil jury trial in circuit court) by viewing recorded circuit court jury trial proceedings that are approved by the Supreme Court and broadcast online via Cisco WebEx. Completion and verification are subject to the following conditions:
Only magistrates nominated or appointed pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §22-1-10 (2017) will be granted access to recorded proceedings. A magistrate or nominee must view the entire trial proceeding. Attendance, log-in information, and attention tracking will be provided to South Carolina Court Administration. A magistrate or nominee who completes a qualifying trial observation under this order shall indicate on the judge's signature line of the Certificate of Trial Experience that the observation was completed "Via Cisco Webex."
s/Donald W. Beatty C.J.
s/John W. Kittredge J.
s/Kaye G. Hearn J.
s/John Cannon Few J.
s/George C. James, Jr. J.
Columbia, South Carolina
October 22, 2020
1. During the COVID-19 emergency, the Judicial Branch will broadcast recorded videos of jury trial proceedings that may be viewed to satisfy the trial observation requirements of S.C. Code Ann. §22-1-16 (2017). Specifically, these recorded videos may be used to satisfy the requirements of §22-1-16 (B) (3) and (4), one criminal jury trial and one civil jury trial in circuit court, and will be broadcast utilizing Cisco WebEx Events.
2. Only a newly nominated or appointed magistrate may access the Cisco Webex Event broadcast of the trial or proceeding. S.C. Court Administration (SCCA) shall maintain a list of all nominees and magistrates who have not completed the trial observation requirements contained in §22-1-16. SCCA will provide a link by email to all such nominees and magistrates of pending broadcasts of jury trials, which will include further details related to broadcast time, access, and other pertinent information. A nominee or magistrate should join the WebEx Event broadcast at least ten minutes prior to the scheduled start time.
3. The nominee or magistrate must view and listen to the entire trial or proceeding to receive credit. SCCA will be provided with attendance records and attention tracking data from each recorded broadcast. Accordingly, a nominee or magistrate should not minimize the screen or open and utilize other applications during the broadcast. A nominee or magistrate who loses connection must rejoin as soon as possible.
4. Periodic breaks will be built into the broadcasts, and jury trial broadcasts will be broken into morning and afternoon sessions. In the case of a jury trial broadcast, a nominee or magistrate may complete the morning session on one day and the afternoon session on a subsequent day, provided that information is included in the Trial Observation Certificate so that attendance may be verified. In such case, the nominee or magistrate must complete both sessions in order to receive credit for the jury trial observation.
5. A nominee or magistrate who completes a jury trial observation under this order shall indicate on the judge's signature line of the Trial Observation Certificate that the observation was completed "Via Cisco Webex."