As was the case earlier in the Spring and Summer of 2020, the courts are being affected by COVID-19. Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, Donald Beatty, made an announcement on Jan. 7.
A recent statement from the town of Summerville said, all in-person hearings through the Town of Summerville Municipal Court are suspended effective Monday, January 11, 2021.
The order was made by South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty out of an abundance of caution in helping to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Bond hearings and emergency hearings will continue. Traffic and criminal cases will be rescheduled once the order is lifted.
Courts statewide did the same thing earlier in 2020 when some shutdowns were ordered by the Governor. Berkeley County Clerk of Court, Leah Guerry Dupree said her courts are making changes to deal with the order.
“There are many moving parts that require a great deal of flexibility with all agencies involved,” she said in an email.
“In family court in light of the Supreme Court Order, only emergency matters including but not limited to DSS emergency protective custody, juvenile detentions, bench warrants and emergency petitions for orders of protections from domestic abuse will be held in-person,” she said.
“Circuit Court will hear in-person emergency matters to include bonds or bench warrants. All non-trial hearings will be held virtually. All jury trial hearings have been suspended until further notice,” said Dupree.
In regards to scheduling, the Dupree’s email said the courts are in the process of arranging set times so that all courts may be accommodated using virtual hearings with the detained litigants. For all non-detained parties, it will operate virtually as a normal docket per the scheduled hearing time.
The order from the Supreme Court Justice said the hearing suspensions are in effect until further notice.