SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester County Courts are scheduled to open on Monday for the first time in more than a month. The Sheriff’s Office says the shutdown has led to a significant backlog in cases.
The Dorchester County Courts have been closed for five weeks because of Coronavirus. Dorchester County Sheriff LC Knight says there could be a backlog of roughly a thousand cases when doors open Monday for the first time in more than a month.
“It’s going to be a problem, it’s going to be slow,” says Sheriff Knight. “We’re going to walk through here shortly to make our plan.”
Sheriff Knight says when courts resume on Monday they will begin working through the backlog of cases built up over the last five weeks. Sheriff Knight says courts will also be tasked with taking on new cases which could slow the process down.
“So it’s going to take a while to work through this so I’m saying five to six months to catch up this backlog,” says Knight.
Among the new cases coming to court, Sheriff Knight says they could see a spike with eviction protection set to expire this week.
“I think most probably we will have a surge of requests for evictions or other things that the courts will do for other people that has been put off for several months,” says Knight.
Sheriff Knight says the courts are taking steps to protect both staff and visitors entering the courtrooms including limiting the amount of people inside among other precautions.
“Everyone’s going to be tested, if you don’t pass the test as far as temperature and whatever else the county decides we need to do to them they won’t get in,” says Knight.
Knight says he wants people to know the courts are going to work through the cases as quickly as possible but expects hiccups along the way.
“It’s going to be like I said earlier a problem, come with a lot of patience because we’ll get them in as soon as possible but our goal is to make everybody safe,” says Knight.
Sheriff Knight says if you’re coming to court, mask and temperature checks will be required. Sheriff Knight is also stressing patience as lines are expected to be long.