Competing Approaches in South Carolina

By on December 7, 2020

Last week saw differing approaches to the pandemic in South Carolina. In the state court system, Chief Justice Don Beatty suspended all state civil and criminal jury trials, finding “that in light of the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases throughout South Carolina, and the expectation by the medical community and experts that the number of positive cases will continue to increase in the near future, it is prudent to once again make changes to the operations of the circuit courts for the protection of those who work within the courts, as well as those who serve our state by participating in jury service…It is ordered that the circuit courts statewide shall not commence any jury trial after December 4, 2020.”

In federal court, however, US District Judge J. Michelle Childs did not react well to a defendant’s suggestion that a requested stay might not matter that much anyway, given the pandemic. She wrote:

“Defendant is severely mistaken that ‘due to the global COVID-19 pandemic (and its particular impact on civil trial dates), a stay may ultimately not have any meaningful impact on the trial schedule in this case.’ The undersigned has conducted one civil trial and one criminal trial since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Given the success of those trials and the extensive protocols the courthouse has in place, the undersigned intends to proceed with all hearings and trials as scheduled. As a result, this case will proceed to trial in September 2021 as contemplated by the Third Amended Scheduling Order….”

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McDermott’s litigation team monitors US courts as they reopen amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

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