CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry officials said a backlog of court cases is stopping justice from being served.
Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said there were fewer than 10 trials in Charleston County last year. He said this comes as South Carolina sees the most significant incremental increases in violent crimes than ever recorded.
According to the chief, the backlog is having an impact on crime in the Lowcountry, saying there is a small number of repeat offenders disproportionately responsible for crimes in our area, but they’re not being locked up because of the lack of trials.
The Charleston Police Department is making a lot of arrests, but justice isn’t always being served.
“I’ll speak for some of the mothers who have lost their children, whose cases are still pending. Put yourself in a mother’s shoes who’s lost a child, who is seeking justice who is waiting and waiting and waiting and not getting answers,” said Reynolds.
Attorney Kevin Smith said the pandemic is still to blame for this backlog.
According to Smith, the courts closed in March 2020. For about a year and a half, cases weren’t getting tried and jury trials weren’t happening. He said state and federal courts have started to move, but the backlog is ongoing.
Smith said pre-pandemic, it typically took about two to three years after a case was filed to get in front of a jury. Now, he said it’s hard to predict how long the process will take because of the backlog.
“There is no rhyme or reason to how many cases are being tried per week. There’s no rhyme or reason to how many judges are hearing cases per week.”
Bail bondsmen like Thomas Sinkler said they’re seeing the effects of the backup in their work too.
“There’s just a lot more pending cases than there ever has been before,” said the owner of Charleston Bail Bonds. “It’s just more people to be responsible for, more people to keep up with.”
News 2 reached out to Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, but she was not available for an interview on Monday.