The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: In-Person Proceedings in the Summary Courts
Pursuant to the provisions of Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution,
I find that since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has required unprecedented changes to ordinary court operations throughout the state. These changes have impacted not only judges, attorneys, and court staff, but also those who use the courts.
I further find that in light of the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases throughout South Carolina, and the expectation by the medical community and experts that the number of positive cases will continue to increase in the near future, it is prudent to once again make changes to the operations of the summary courts for the protection of those who work within the courts, as well as those who use the courts. Based on the foregoing,
All in-person proceedings in the summary courts statewide beginning on or after January 11, 2021 are hereby suspended until further Order of the Chief Justice, subject to the limited exceptions outlined below:
- Bond hearings and emergency matters including, but not limited to, restraining orders, orders of protection, and vacating of bench warrants.
If an in-person proceeding is held, attorneys, parties to the matter and any necessary witnesses must take direction from the Clerk of Court, or his or her designee, prior to entering the courtroom or hearing room.
Nothing in this order should be construed to prohibit conducting hearings and non-jury trials by remote communication technology as outlined in the Supreme Court’s Order RE: Operation of the Trial Courts During the Coronavirus Emergency (As Amended December 16, 2020). Where possible, the use of remote communication technology to conduct proceedings is encouraged.
This Order shall remain in effect until amended or rescinded by the Chief Justice. Any Order allowing the resumption of in-person proceedings will be issued at least two weeks prior to the affected date to allow time for scheduling.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
January 6, 2021