Courts prepare to reopen with safety measures in place amid the coronavirus pandemic

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Courtrooms across the Lowcountry are set to resume in-person trials and hearings.

It comes six months after slowing down the state’s court system at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Since then, courts have had to delay or adjust trials.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said things had to change after the start of the pandemic in South Carolina, some of which will resume as a “new normal” in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been open, and we’ve been working. We’ve just been working differently,” said Solicitor Wilson.

Rather than meeting in the courthouse for physical trials, some smaller issues have been handled virtually online.

Some staff members in Charleston County worked in the office one day and from home the next. But things like a full jury trial have been on hold.

Lawyers have had more time to go through some of their cases and deal with them virtually.

With new COVID-19 protocols in place, they will soon continue with full jury trials.

“It will be good to have trials moving again. We’ve got to be careful with our jurors, making sure they’re safe so they don’t get sick and so they can focus on the task at hand, which is looking at the evidence and the credibility that sort of thing,” she said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty wrote in an order Monday that courts may return to normal scheduling, docket management and in-person hearings as of Sept. 21.

Still, it will take some time – perhaps a month – before cases can resume on a regular basis.

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