Announcements, resources and event changes that may affect South Carolina Bar members. 

Visit our Practice Management Assistance Program's COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers including guides, policies, videos, and links to manage your firm and assist clients during a pandemic.

If you are a member of the public looking for legal assistance, please visit scbar.org/covidhelp.


South Carolina Court Announcements/Orders

See the S.C. Judicial Department's COVID-19 Information page for a comprehensive list of orders. The most recent state-level orders and all recent circuit and county-level communications are also posted below. 

Suspension of Family Court Benchmark Administrative Order (Jan. 15, 2021) 

Administrative order from S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty suspending the provision of the July 24, 2020 Administrative Order requiring that domestic relations and juvenile cases in the State of South Carolina be disposed of within 365 days of their filing.  Pending further order, matters shall not be dismissed on the basis that no request for a final hearing has been received. 

In-Person Proceedings in Circuit, Family, Probate, and Master-in-Equity (Jan. 6, 2021)

According to a January 6, 2021 order, all in-person proceedings in the circuit, family, probate, and master-in-equity courts courts statewide beginning on or after January 11, 2021 are hereby suspended until further order of the Chief Justice. Limited exceptions include:

  • Circuit Courts statewide may hear in-person emergency matters including, but not limited to, matters relating to Bonds and Bench Warrants.
  • Family Courts statewide may hear in-person emergency matters including, but not limited to, DSS Emergency Protective Custody, Juvenile Detentions, Bench Warrants, and Emergency Petitions for Orders of Protection from Domestic Abuse.

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 This Order shall remain in effect until amended or rescinded by the Chief Justice.

In-Person Proceedings in the Summary Courts (Jan. 6, 2021) 

According to a January  6, 2021 order, 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. Limited exceptions include bond hearings and emergency matters including, but not limited to, restraining orders, orders of protection, and vacating of bench warrants.  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.

Operation of the Trial Courts During the Coronavirus Emergency (Dec. 16, 2020) 

Provides guidance on the continued operation of trial courts during the COVID-19 emergency. The measures contained in this South Carolina Supreme Court order are intended to allow essential operations to continue while minimizing the risk to the public, litigants, lawyers and court employees. This order was initially filed on April 3, 2020, and has been amended three times. The latest order amends sections (c)(1), (c)(2) (c)(3), (c)(4), (c)(6), (c)(8), (c)(9), (d)(2), (d)(3), (f)(1)(C), (h)(1), (h)(2), (h)(3), and (i), and added new sections (c)(11)(D), (c)(18), (f)(4) and (i)(3).

Selection of Grand Jury Members Suspended (Dec. 9, 2020) 

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty temporarily suspended the selection of new grand jury members in this Dec. 9 order. The order states that "previously established grand juries may convene during the month of December 2020 for the purpose of considering the presentment of indictments." The order applies to county grand juries throughout the state as well as the State Grand Jury. This Order supersedes all prior local orders regarding grand juries.

Circuit and Summary Court Jury Trials Suspended (Dec. 3, 2020) 

South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty ordered the circuit courts statewide to not hold any jury trials after December 4, 2020. "Circuit Court Judges shall continue to preside over all other regularly scheduled hearings as assigned. Beginning with the week of December 7, 2020, all circuit court hearings currently scheduled, with the exception of trials by jury, shall proceed as previously scheduled. Where possible, the use of remote communication technology to conduct hearings is encouraged."

This order suspends jury trials in summary courts after Dec. 4, 2020. Hearings should continue as previously scheduled. 

Magistrate Jury Trial Observations (Oct. 22, 2020)

South Carolina Supreme Court order permitting newly nominated or appointed magistrates to satisfy the circuit court components of their trial observation requirements by viewing recorded jury trial proceedings broadcast online via Cisco WebEx.


Circuit and County Announcements

  1. Courthouse operations by county
  2. Local orders and memos by circuit 

Visit the S.C. Judicial Branch’s website for the latest updates. 

Second Judicial Circuit Family Court (Jan. 7, 2020)

Memo from Judge Vicki J. Snelgrove, Chief Administrative Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit Family Court on court operations 

Fifth Circuit Family Court (Jan. 8, 2021) 

Memo from Judge Monét S. Pincus, Chief Administrative Judge  on updated court procedures and virtual courtroom hearings​

Fifth Circuit General Sessions in Richland County 

Memo from Judge Robert E. Hood, Chief Administrative Judge for Fifth Circuit General Sessions Court

Pickens County Family Court (Jan. 7, 2021)

Memo  from Judge Karen S. Roper,  Chief Administrative Judge for Pickens County Family Court

11th Circuit Family Court (Dec. 9, 2020)

Virtual Courtrooms Memo from Judge Robert Newton, Chief Administrative Judge for 11th Circuit Family Court 


Visits to the S.C. Department of Corrections (March 24, 2020)

In order to keep your clients and our staff safe, non-attorney visitation has been suspended and access to SCDC institutions is limited as much as possible to SCDC staff. Attorney visits to SCDC institutions have NOT been halted; however, attorneys are asked to postpone any visits that are not considered emergencies and to utilize phone calls as much as possible. Inmates’ attorney phone calls will take place in a confidential setting inside of the institution. If it is necessary for an attorney to visit their client during this time, the attorney will be subjected to the same screening as staff; their temperature may be taken and they will be asked a series of questions to ensure the safety of SCDC inmates and staff. If you have experienced, or have cared for someone who has experienced, any coronavirus or flu like symptoms, please send someone in your place to meet with the inmate. SCDC must take all precautions to ensure that this virus is not introduced into any of our institutions so as to avoid it spreading across the inmate population. 

If you have questions about this process, please email Boylston.Melody@doc.sc.gov or corrections.info@doc.sc.gov, and someone will respond as soon as possible. Response times may be longer than usual so please give SCDC plenty of time to process.


Federal Courts & Guidance

Centers for Disease Control

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention on Sept. 4, 2020 issued a temporary moratorium on evictions under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Read the full order.

United States District Court for the District of South Carolina

Please continue to check www.scd.uscourts.gov for updates. 

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

See the latest upates on the court's COVID-19 announcements page. 


Out of State Courts

North Carolina

Updates from the N.C. Judicial Branch including county announcements and orders from Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and county-level information.

Georgia

The Judicial Council of Geogia's COVID-19 news and information page including links to statewide orders and orders by circuit.

Other Out of State Courts Information

List of court closings and restrictions across the country. (Law 360 has lifted its paywall for COVID-19 information). 


SC Bar Announcements & Updates 

All section and committee meetings are being held by conference and video calls. Most SC Bar employees are working remotely. The main SC Bar Building and SC Bar Conference Center are temporarily closed to visitors.

We will continue to provide essential services, but please bear with us if it takes us a little longer than usual to answer your calls or email messages.

CLE Opportunities   

The June 16, 2020 SC Supreme Court order waived the in person requirement for CLE hours for this compliance period. Lawyers and judges may now earn all of the required hours for 2020-21 online. 

Through March 1, 2021 the SC Bar will:

  • Live stream more than 40 CLE seminars
  • Archive and offer these programs + dozens more on-demand for 24/7 access
  • Offer more than 400 online, on-demand programs covering a variety of practice areas, including ethics and substance abuse/mental health

Our live and archived streaming technology has been fully accredited by the South Carolina Supreme Court Commission on CLE. View any SC Bar CLE program knowing content and technology meet all standards.

Check out upcoming programs and register today via our Shop CLE page

The CLE Division is not accepting walk-in orders for publications. You may still order books online or call 803-771-0333, ext. 126.  Orders will be shipped on Thursdays

For questions, contact CLE Director Terry Burnett at tburnett@scbar.org or (803) 576-3780.

South Carolina Bar Foundation

The SC Bar Foundation is committed to providing you with continued help in answering IOLTA questions, assisting with donations, and providing information regarding the Foundation as needed.  If you have to reach the Foundation for any reason whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact executive director, Megan Seiner via email at mseiner@scbar.org or at (803) 576-3786. 

Thank you for all that you do to support the SC Bar Foundation. The Foundations is so grateful for your continued generosity, especially now. 


Resources