STATE OF THE JUDICIARY
2004

Supreme Court Seal

Address of The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal
Chief Justice of South Carolina

Joint Session of the General Assembly
February 24, 2004
Columbia, South Carolina


LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR BAUER, PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE MCCONNELL, SPEAKER WILKINS, SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE SMITH, MEMBERS OF THE JOINT ASSEMBLY, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA JUDICIARY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

CAROL CONNOR

I BEGIN THIS - MY FOURTH - STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS WITH A HEAVY HEART. JUDGE CAROL CONNOR OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS PASSED AWAY ON THE MORNING OF FEBRUARY 20, 2004, AT THE YOUNG AGE OF 54, AFTER A LONG AND COURAGEOUS BATTLE WITH CANCER. HER COLLEAGUES ON THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT MARK HER PASSING WITH A PROFOUND SENSE OF LOSS, BOTH PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL, AND WITH INEXPRESSIBLE APPRECIATION OF HER BRILLIANCE, ENERGY, COMPASSION, UNFLAGGING SPIRIT, AND INDOMITABLE COURAGE. HER LEGAL DECISIONS WILL CONTINUE TO GUIDE THE LAW OF THIS STATE, AS HER EXAMPLE OF A LIFE SUPERBLY AND SPLENDIDLY LIVED WILL CONTINUE TO INSPIRE ALL WHO KNOW HER OR MAY COME TO KNOW OF HER.

SHE IS SURVIVED BY HER HUSBAND, PALMER FREEMAN, A FORMER MEMBER OF THIS HOUSE, HER MOTHER, POLLY MCGILL CONNOR, HER SONS TIM CONNOR-MURPHY, CONNOR FREEMAN AND DAN FREEMAN, HER SISTERS PAULA SELLARS AND LOU CONNOR, A HOST OF LOVING FAMILY INCLUDING HER FIRST COUSIN, WILLIAMSBURG SENATOR YANCEY MCGILL, HER GRIEVING BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO WEAR THE ROBE, AND ALL SOUTH CAROLINIANS.

INTRODUCTION

LET ME BEGIN MY REPORT TO YOU WITH THANKS FOR BENDING YOUR SCHEDULE TO ACCOMMODATE ME TODAY BEFORE THE NATIONAL COMMANDER OF THE AMERICAN LEGION. I'M HAVING SHOULDER SURGERY THURSDAY TO CLEAN OUT THE BONE CHIPS ACCUMULATED OUT OF SIXTY YEARS OF BASEBALL, TENNIS, HOCKEY AND GOLF. I'LL TRY TO BE AS MINDFUL OF YOUR TIME AS YOU HAVE BEEN OF MINE.

SOUTH CAROLINA IN NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

THIS YEAR HAS BEEN ONE THAT HAS PLACED OUR STATE COURT SYSTEM ON A NATIONAL PLATFORM. WE HOSTED THE NATIONAL JUDGES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE BRINGING SUMMARY COURT JUDGES TO CHARLESTON FROM MORE THAN 40 STATE AND INTERNATIONAL COURTS. WE ALSO HOSTED THE NATIONAL PROBATE JUDGES CONFERENCE THIS YEAR UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF JUDGE RAY EUBANKS OF SPARTANBURG, THIS YEAR'S NATIONAL PRESIDENT.

I WAS HONORED TO BE ASKED TO KEYNOTE THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR STATE COURT'S EIGHTH COURT TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE. WE TOLD THE STORY OF HOW A SMALL, RURAL STATE IS LEADING THE NATION IN ENGINEERING OUR COURT SYSTEM.

AND IN 2005, SOUTH CAROLINA HAS BEEN PICKED TO HOST THE SUMMER MEETING OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF CHIEF JUSTICES AND NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE COURT ADMINISTRATORS.

THESE CONFERENCES GIVE US A CHANCE TO SHOWCASE THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF OUR COURT SYSTEMS AS WELL AS FORM RELATIONSHIPS, WHICH LEAD TO ADDITIONAL NATIONAL FUNDING SUPPORT FOR OUR COURTS.

TECHNOLOGY JOURNEY OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA COURTS

TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES TO BE A CENTRAL EMPHASIS OF MY ADMINISTRATION AS YOUR CHIEF, BECAUSE I AM CONVINCED THAT IN YEARS OF LEAN STATE FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND SPIRALING CASELOADS, I MUST ENGINEER MORE EFFICIENCY IN OUR SYSTEM.

SO LET ME TAKE YOU ON SOUTH CAROLINA'S TECHNOLOGY JOURNEY, AN EXCITING JOURNEY AND ONE OF FAIRLY SHORT DURATION. AS WITH ANYTHING, OUR TECHNOLOGY JOURNEY INVOLVED A BUILDING BLOCK APPROACH TO MEANINGFUL PROGRESS.

IT BEGINS IN 2000 WITH MY ELECTION AS CHIEF JUSTICE IN MARCH OF THAT YEAR. AS CHIEF JUSTICE, I KNEW AT THAT TIME THAT THERE WOULD BE NO MORE JUDGES AND NO MORE COURT FACILITIES TO ATTACK THE HUGE PROBLEM OF BACKLOG THAT THEN EXISTED IN OUR STATE COURT SYSTEM, PARTICULARLY AT THE TRIAL LEVEL. SO MY DILEMMA WAS … HOW CAN I REORGANIZE MY EXISTING HUMAN RESOURCES AND EXISTING FACILITIES TO ATTACK THE PROBLEM OF COURT EFFICIENCY AND CITIZEN ACCESS TO THE PROCESS?

STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGY PLAN

SO, WHAT WAS OUR STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGY PLAN FOR SOUTH CAROLINA? ITS PLATFORM IS NETWORK CONNECTIVITY ALL OVER THE STATE IN EVERY COUNTY IN THE STATE. HIGH-SPEED INTERNET CONNECTIVITY.

WE WERE LOOKING AT A PLAN THAT WOULD TAKE PEOPLE AND PROCESS AND USE TECHNOLOGY TO JOIN THEM. AND JUST LIKE THE COURTS THEMSELVES, TECHNOLOGY HAS GOT TO BE ABLE TO PUSH AND PULL INFORMATION IN ORDER TO MORE EFFECTIVELY MANAGE.

NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE - HIGH-SPEED INTERNET CONNECTIVITY

THIS SERIES OF SLIDES WILL SHOW YOU HOW NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE OCCURRED IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

THE YEAR 2001: WE HAD NO HIGH SPEED IN ANY COUNTY IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

THE YEAR 2002: WE BEGAN TO MAKE PROGRESS. THOSE GOLD COUNTIES ARE THE COUNTIES IN WHICH WE WERE ABLE TO INTRODUCE HIGH-SPEED CONNECTIVITY FOR OUR STATE JUDGES AND THE CLERKS OF CLERK. MY I/T DIRECTOR CALLS THIS 'GOING FOR THE GOLD,' AND SHE'S SOLD IT ALL OVER SOUTH CAROLINA. AND THE MORE SHE TALKS ABOUT IT, THE MORE THE SMALLER COUNTIES SAY, "I WANT TO BE A GOLD COUNTY."

HERE'S THE YEAR 2003, AND OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS ALMOST COMPLETE. AND THE FEW COUNTIES YOU SEE THAT ARE WHITE COUNTIES HAVE AN ACTIVE PROGRAM UNDER WAY. I EXPECT BY THE END OF THE YEAR, THE ENTIRE STATE WILL BE CONNECTED.

THIS INFRASTRUCTURE IS THE KEY. THE FIRST TWO LEGS OF OUR STRATEGIC PLAN WERE NETWORK CONNECTIVITY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF WEB SITES. WITH THAT INFRASTRUCTURE IN, WE WERE THEN READY TO MOVE TO THE THIRD LEG OF OUR STRATEGIC PLAN: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR SOUTH CAROLINA.

THAT TECHNOLOGY JOURNEY IN 2003 ALSO INCLUDED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INTRANET, A CALL CENTER, AND SEVERAL OTHER INITIATIVES. BUT I WANT TO CONCENTRATE FOR A MOMENT ON HOW WE PILOTED OUR STATE CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AND THEN GIVE YOU SOME REAL-WORLD EXAMPLES OF HOW IT WORKS IN FACT.

STATEWIDE COURT CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR STATE COURTS WAS THE KEY TO HELPING SOUTH CAROLINA DEVELOP A STATEWIDE CONCEPT OF HOW CASE MANAGEMENT COULD WORK. THEIR TECHNICAL STAFF CAME TO SOUTH CAROLINA NUMEROUS TIMES. I STRUGGLED TO PAY MY DUES FROM SOUTH CAROLINA TO THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR STATE COURTS. BUT I GOT VALUE DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR - AND THEN SOME - AND THE MARVELOUS TECHNICAL SUPPORT THIS STAFF PROVIDED THIS SMALL STATE IN DEVELOPING OUR CASE MANAGEMENT PLAN.

A CASE MANAGEMENT DATABASE INCLUDES FOUR ELEMENTS:

(1) THE PEOPLE INVOLVED
(2) THE FINANCIAL END THAT MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR AND MAINTAINED AS FUNDS COME INTO THE SYSTEM
(3) THE TIME INVOLVED AND
(4) THE CASE ITSELF

TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED TO MAKE THESE FOUR ELEMENTS INTERACT.

OUR SYSTEM, THEN, IN SOUTH CAROLINA FOR OUR INITIAL PILOT IS A SYSTEM THAT INVOLVES CASE MANAGEMENT FOR OUR GENERAL SESSIONS COURT, THAT'S OUR CRIMINAL COURT PART OF OUR GENERAL LEVEL COURT SYSTEM; CASE MANAGEMENT FOR OUR COMMON PLEAS COURT, THAT'S OUR BASIC CIVIL COURT; A CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN MAGISTRATES COURT, THAT'S THAT BASE LEVEL LAY COURT IN BOTH CRIMINAL, CIVIL AND TRAFFIC; AND A JURY MANAGEMENT MODULE; AND AN ACCOUNTING MODULE. THE VERY CHALLENGE WAS HOW TO IDENTIFY WHICH COUNTIES WOULD PILOT THIS SYSTEM AND HOW TO DESIGN IT.

THREE PILOTS WERE SELECTED IN SOUTH CAROLINA TO PROVE OUR SYSTEM AND THE APPLICATION SERVICE PROVIDER MODEL. I WANTED A SMALL, RURAL COUNTY, BUT I ALSO WANTED TO PARTNER WITH A VERY LARGE COUNTY OR COUNTIES THAT HAD A ROBUST INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT ALREADY ON BOARD AND, JUST AS IMPORTANTLY, HAD SOME REAL LEADERSHIP IN THE CLERK'S OFFICE AND IN THE COURT SYSTEM THAT COULD HELP SIT DOWN AND DESIGN A SYSTEM … NOT JUST ONE THAT WOULD WORK FOR A BIG COUNTY BUT ONE THAT COULD WORK FOR EVERYONE IN THE STATE.

WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO IDENTIFY A LARGE, URBAN COUNTY - GREENVILLE COUNTY - WITH A SOPHISTICATED COUNTY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT WHO, ALTHOUGH THEY HAD THEIR OWN SYSTEM, WAS WILLING TO ASSIST AND WORK TO DEVELOP A STATEWIDE SYSTEM. PAUL WICKENSIMER, THEIR CLERK, HAS A PROFILE WHICH IS A DREAM FOR THIS PROJECT FROM MY POINT OF VIEW: BJU GRAD, FORMER SOUTHERN BELL EXECUTIVE, FORMER MEMBER OF GREENVILLE COUNTY COUNCIL, HIGHLY RESPECTED BY ALL CLERKS OF COURT IN THE SYSTEM THROUGHOUT SOUTH CAROLINA.

WE HAD MANY TRIAL LEVEL JUDGES IN THE SYSTEM IN GREENVILLE WHO ARE ALSO BIG USERS OF TECHNOLOGY AND REALLY "GET IT" ABOUT HOW THE SYSTEM CAN BE USED TO MORE EFFECTIVELY MOVE CASES AND ACCESS CASES IN THE SYSTEM. BUT I NEEDED A LAY JUDGE THAT COULD ALSO DEAL WITH HOW TO DESIGN THE SYSTEM FROM THE GROUND UP BECAUSE ON THE CRIMINAL SIDE, OUR SYSTEM DEPENDS ON CAPTURING INFORMATION AT THE MOMENT AN ARREST WARRANT IS ISSUED AND BEGINNING TO MOVE THIS INFORMATION UP AND THROUGH THE SYSTEM. WE ALSO HAVE A LAY JUDGE DIANE CAGLE - THE CHIEF JUDGE, MAGISTRATE JUDGE OF GREENVILLE, NOT A LAWYER, BUT AN INNOVATOR IF EVER THERE WAS ONE - WHO AGREED TO COORDINATE WITH US, AND SHE IS ALSO HIGHLY RESPECTED BY THE OTHER LAY JUDGES IN THE STATE.

WELL, TOGETHER, WE WERE ABLE TO DEVELOP A SYSTEM FOR GREENVILLE. AND THEN WE IDENTIFIED RICHLAND COUNTY, THE COUNTY IN WHICH THE STATE CAPITAL IS LOCATED, WITH ANOTHER GREAT INNOVATOR - BARBARA SCOTT, ITS CLERK - AND A SMALL COUNTY, PICKENS, AT THE VERY UPPER, NORTHWEST CORNER OF THE STATE WITH LEJETTE GATLIN, THEIR CLERK, WHO WAS ALSO FROM A SMALL, RURAL AREA BUT A REAL INNOVATOR AND DOESN'T TAKE "NO" FOR AN ANSWER, WORK ETHIC: CAN DO. THESE THREE COUNTIES JOINED TOGETHER TO DESIGN AND HELP PILOT THIS SYSTEM. OUR SYSTEM WILL BE LIVE THESE COUNTIES BY MID YEAR.

AS OF TODAY, WE HAVE PURCHASED THE MODEL FOR CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FROM OUR VENDOR. WE - THE SOUTH CAROLINA JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT - OWN IT. WE WILL MAKE IT OUR GIFT, OUR CONTRIBUTION, TO EVERY COUNTY. THE COUNTIES WILL PAY ONLY MAINTENANCE AND ONGOING UPKEEP.

NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE: CLARENDON COUNTY

LET ME TALK FOR A MOMENT ABOUT A GREAT SUCCESS STORY IN SOUTH CAROLINA THAT HAS TO DO WITH HOW THE TECHNOLOGY WORKS IN THE REAL WORLD OF TRYING CASES.

CLARENDON COUNTY WAS THE SITE IN 1953 OF THE FILING OF BRIGGS V. ELLIOTT. THIS CASE, ALONG WITH FOUR OTHERS, WAS COMBINED AT THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT AND KNOWN AS BROWN V. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THE LANDMARK CASE THAT ABOLISHED SEGREGATION IN PUBLIC EDUCATION AND ACCOMMODATION IN THIS COUNTRY. THIS CASE, THE BRIGGS CASE, HAD ITS GENESIS IN THIS SMALL, RURAL COUNTY IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

AND PRIOR TO JUNE OF THIS YEAR, THIS COURTHOUSE HAD LIMITED TECHNOLOGY, RELATIVELY NO CONNECTIVITY OR ACCESS. THIS COUNTY WAS GOING TO BE THE SITE IN 2003 OF THE EQUITY IN EDUCATION LAWSUIT, A MAJOR LAWSUIT THAT DEALS WITH PUBLIC FUNDING/PUBLIC EDUCATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA. SINCE JUNE OF 2003, COLLABORATING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND WITH THE STATE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT, WE HAVE COMPLETELY REWIRED THE ENTIRE COURTHOUSE IN CLARENDON AND THE SURROUNDING OFFICES THAT SIT AROUND THE COURTHOUSE. IN SMALL, RURAL ENVIRONMENTS, YOU DON'T HAVE EVERYTHING JUST HOUSED IN ONE PLACE. YOU'VE GOT TO BE VERY CREATIVE SOMETIMES ABOUT HOW YOU CONNECT. I GO AND SEE MY JUDGE IN CLARENDON SOMETIMES, AND I FORGET WHICH DOOR OPENS TO HIS OFFICE. AND I LOOK UP FOR THAT CISCO ROUTER THAT'S HANGING OVER HIS DOOR, AND I KNOW THAT'S WHERE HE IS.

WE EVEN INFLUENCED THE LOCAL HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, WHICH IS WHERE THE LAWYERS ARE GOING TO STAY WHO TRY THIS CASE. THEY INSTALLED DSL LINES TO ACCOMMODATE OUR LAWYERS' NEEDS. AND WE HAD A JUDGE - JUDGE TOMMY COOPER - WHO HAD THE VISION AND HAD THE RESPECT LOCALLY TO REALIZE THAT WE NEEDED THIS TO TRY THIS CASE, AND WE NEEDED COUNTY COOPERATION. AND WE HAD A CLERK OF COURT, BEULAH ROBERTS, WHO'S ALSO PICTURED ON YOUR SCREEN WHO WAS WILLING TO GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO HELP MAKE THIS TECHNOLOGY WORK IN HER COURTHOUSE. WE ALSO HAD A COURT REPORTER, CATHIE RICHARDSON, WHO'S ALSO PICTURED. SHE, ON HER OWN, IN LESS THAN A MONTH, LEARNED TO USE REAL-TIME TRANSCRIPTION AND USED IT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THIS VERY IMPORTANT CASE.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE COUNTIES: CLARENDON COUNTY

WELL, THE RESULT WAS THAT WHEN THE EQUITY IN EDUCATION CASE BEGAN, THE LAWYERS BROUGHT DOWN THESE HUGE BANKERS BOXES THAT LAWYERS ALWAYS BRING TO TRY BIG CASES. IN FACT, BEULAH ROBERTS TOLD ME THEY BROKE THE ELEVATOR IN THE CLARENDON COUNTY COURTHOUSE BRINGING ALL THESE DOCUMENTS IN. WE KNEW THAT WASN'T GOING TO WORK AS TO HOW TO TRY THIS CASE. THEY HAD 550 BANKERS BOXES, 175 DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPTS. HOW WAS THIS MATERIAL GOING TO BE USED IN A REAL, LIVE TRIAL?

TODAY, WE HAVE ONLINE ACCESS IN THIS COURTROOM IN THIS SMALL TOWN IN SOUTH CAROLINA. EACH LAW FIRM IS ABLE TO ACCESS THE OVER 18,000 DOCUMENTS, 60,000 PAGES THAT THEY'VE IDENTIFIED AS DOCUMENTS TO BE PUT IN AS EXHIBITS IN THIS CASE. AND EACH LAW FIRM HAS IN THE COURTROOM ACCESS TO ITS OWN DATABASE AND, OF COURSE, TO ITS PAPERS. JUDICIAL PERSONNEL IN THIS SMALL COURTHOUSE HAVE ACCESS TO COURT RECORDS AND LEGAL RESEARCH ONLINE. THEY CAN SEARCH AND RETRIEVE AND ACCESS INFORMATION FROM RIGHT IN THE COURTROOM. IN FACT, I SAT, WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE PARTIES, FOR ONE DAY AND PRESIDED WITH JUDGE COOPER. AND I WANTED TO SEE HOW IN A REAL, LIVE SITUATION HE WOULD USE THE TECHNOLOGY. IN FACT, I KNOW TOMMY WELL. HE'S A HUNT AND PECKER LIKE MOST PEOPLE ARE, AND I WANTED TO KNOW HOW HE WOULD ACTUALLY USE THE KEYBOARD. ON ONE SIDE, HE HAD A COMPUTER WITH THE EXHIBITS. AND THERE WAS A BIG, PLASMA SCREEN SHOWING THE EXHIBITS AND SOMETIMES SNAPPING OUT PIECES OF TEXT TO HAVE THE WITNESS TESTIFY. ON THE OTHER SIDE, HE HAD A COMPUTER THAT HAD A REAL-TIME TRANSCRIPTION OF THE TESTIMONY THAT MS. RICHARDSON WAS PUTTING TOGETHER. AND HE WOULD STOP THAT REAL-TIME AND PUT A LITTLE CARAT IN THE MARGIN AND TYPE IN, EVEN BY HUNT AND PECK, NOTES ON PIECES OF TESTIMONY THAT WERE IMPORTANT THAT HE COULD THEN GO BACK TO. THAT WILL SAVE HIM MONTHS WHEN HE FINALLY HAS TO DEVELOP THE ORDER THAT WILL MAKE THE DECISIONS IN THIS COMPLEX AND VERY IMPORTANT CASE. MAJOR INNOVATION HAPPENING IN ONE OF THE SMALLEST COMMUNITIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA, AND MUCH OF IT BECAUSE OF THE LIBRARY OF INFORMATION THAT IS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB SITE ACCESSIBLE RIGHT AT THE JUDGE'S BENCH IN THAT COURTROOM.

YEAR 2004 AND FUTURE

WELL, WHAT DOES THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE IN SOUTH CAROLINA? I THINK OUR ADVENTURE IS JUST BEGINNING. IN 2004, WE HOPE TO HAVE NETWORK CONNECTIVITY FOR ALL JUDICIAL FACILITIES IN THE STATE. WE HOPE TO DEPLOY THE STATEWIDE CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM OF WHICH I SPOKE TO ALL 46 COUNTIES. WE HOPE TO HAVE REAL-TIME INTERFACES WITH OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION SYSTEM IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. WE WILL BEGIN TO DEBUT E-FILING - ELECTRONIC FILING - IN SOME CIVIL CASES IN SELECTED JURISDICTIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

WHAT DO THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT EFFORTS
MEAN TO RURAL SOUTH CAROLINA?

WHAT DO THESE EFFORTS MEAN IN RURAL SOUTH CAROLINA? I CALL IT LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD. IT MEANS THAT JUDICIAL PERSONNEL IN OUR STATE HAVE GOT EQUAL ACCESS TO ELECTRONIC RESOURCES, WHETHER THEY'RE IN A SMALL, RURAL FACILITY OR IN ONE OF OUR LARGER METROPOLITAN COUNTIES. ESSENTIALLY, THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND THE CONSISTENCY OF THE PROCESSING FORMS MAKE JUSTICE AN EVEN-HANDED SITUATION, WHETHER YOU'RE IN A SMALL ALLENDALE COUNTY OR A LARGE RICHLAND COUNTY IN SOUTH CAROLINA; AND TECHNOLOGY BECOMES AN INHERENT PART OF THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS AS A COURT.

FUNDING

HOW DO WE FUND THIS? THAT'S ALWAYS THE HUGE CONUNDRUM FOR ANY STATE COURT THAT EMBARKS UPON THIS KIND OF VENTURE. EVERY STATE RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDS FOR VARIOUS CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND FAMILY SERVICE PROGRAMS, WHETHER IT BE BYRNE GRANTS, NATIONAL CRIMINAL HISTORY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS, COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES SIDE, OR HOMELAND SECURITY. AND WE HAVE TRIED TO LEVERAGE THOSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE FUNDS TO ALSO ASSIST ON THE CIVIL SIDE TO FORM A CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM THAT SERVES ALL.

WE ARE DEEPLY INDEBTED TO BURKE FITZPATRICK AND GINGER DUKES AT THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR THE AWARD OF BRYNE GRANTS WHICH HAVE MEANT SO MUCH TO CREATING OUR SYSTEM.

OUR FEDERAL GRANT DOLLARS HAVE BEEN FOCUSED PRIMARILY ON OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES. SIXTY PERCENT OF THE MONIES WE'VE RECEIVED IN FEDERAL GRANTS HAVE BEEN SPENT IN COUNTIES OF 200,000 OR LESS IN POPULATION. THEY'RE THE COUNTIES WHO HAVE THE LEAST ABILITY TO GENERATE FUNDS ON THEIR OWN. AND ALTHOUGH I HAVE ENCOURAGED EVERY COUNTY IN SOUTH CAROLINA TO HAVE A STAKE IN THE ACTION BY CONTRIBUTING SOME TO THE EFFORT, I'VE TRIED TO CONCENTRATE THE RESOURCES THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT IS ABLE TO ACCUMULATE ON THE COUNTIES WHO HAVE THE LEAST ABILITY TO GENERATE THESE FUNDS ON THEIR OWN BECAUSE A TRUE LINKED SYSTEM HAS TO INCLUDE EVERYONE.

I'D NEVER BEEN ABLE TO MAKE THIS EFFORT SUCCEED WITHOUT OUR LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON, AND PARTICULARLY SENATOR ERNEST F. HOLLINGS. SENATOR HOLLINGS YEARS AGO DEVELOPED THE TECH SYSTEM FOR SOUTH CAROLINA, AND NOW ONE OF HIS GREAT LEGACIES AS HE RETIRES WILL BE THE INTRODUCTION OF A REAL TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM OF AUTOMATION FOR THE COURTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
LET ME TALK ABOUT OUR STATE FUNDING PICTURE. WHEN I WAS ELECTED IN 1999, THE SYSTEM WAS FUNDED AT $43 MILLION. BY THE TIME I TOOK OVER, MID YEAR CUTS HAD REDUCED THAT FIGURE TO $40 MILLION, AND DOWN IT CONTINUED UNTIL THIS FISCAL YEAR, WHERE OUR STATE GENERAL APPROPRIATION FUNDS ARE AT $32 MILLION. WE WOULD HAVE TO SHUT DOWN A LOT OF COURTHOUSES WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE YOU HAVE PROVIDED IN FINES AND FEES, BUT WE'RE STILL VERY SHORT. OUR SYSTEM NOW RECEIVES LESS THAN $8 PER CAPITA PER ANNUM AND MANY VITAL PROGRAMS ARE BEING ELIMINATED.

LET'S LOOK FOR A MOMENT AT THE PRODUCTION SIDE. FOR ONLY OUR FAMILY COURT AND CIRCUIT COURT, WE HAVE 1.3 JUDGES PER 100,000 IN POPULATION, BUT WHEREAS MASSACHUSETTS USES THAT RATIO OF JUDGES TO PROCESS 379 CASE FILINGS PER JUDGE PER YEAR - THE LOWEST PER JUDGE RATE IN THE COUNTRY - SOUTH CAROLINA'S JUDGES MUST PROCESS 3,378 FILINGS PER JUDGE, PER YEAR.

NOTE THAT SOUTH CAROLINA RANKS 5TH HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY ON VIOLENT CRIMES PER 100,000 POPULATION.

STREAMLINING AND DOING MORE WITH LESS HAS ITS LIMITS WITH REGARDS TO EFFECTIVENESS.

SOUTH CAROLINA COURTS HAVE NOT HAD ANY ADDITIONAL JUDGE POSITIONS IN THE CIRCUIT AND FAMILY COURTS IN NINE YEARS.

IN THE PAST NINE YEARS, THE TOTAL CASELOAD IN CIRCUIT AND FAMILY COURTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA HAS INCREASED APPROXIMATELY SEVEN PERCENT (ABOUT 20 PERCENT INCLUDING SUMMARY COURTS).
NEXT YEAR, ADDITIONAL TRIAL JUDGE POSITIONS WILL HAVE TO BE REQUESTED. I WILL BE ACTIVELY SEEKING YOUR INPUT AS I MAKE MY RECOMMENDATIONS.

OUR CHALLENGES

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

I APPLAUD AND SUPPORT EFFORTS OF ATTORNEY GENERAL HENRY MCMASTER TO DEVELOP NEW PROSECUTION INITIATIVES AND JUDICIAL TRAINING TO TACKLE THE CURSE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. SOUTH CAROLINA RANKS TOPS IN THE NATION FOR DEATHS BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. BUT THIS STATISTIC PLAYS OUT IN MANY OTHER ARENAS. THE CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CREATES ABUSERS IN THE NEXT GENERATION. THANK YOU FOR THE WORK OF REPRESENTATIVES BOB LEACH, GILDA COBB-HUNTER AND GLORIA HASKINS IN WORKING TO STRENGTHEN OUR LAWS.

INTERPRETERS

WE WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE MORE NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING LITIGANTS IN OUR COURTS. WE MUST ADDRESS THEIR NEED FOR ACCESS TO OUR COURTS.

DIVERSITY

IN MY "STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS" TWO YEARS AGO, I DISCUSSED OUR SYSTEM OF JUDICIAL SELECTION. EVERY NATIONAL MEETING I ATTEND DEEPENS MY CONVICTION THAT SOUTH CAROLINA'S BASIC SYSTEM OF LEGISLATIVE SELECTION IS A VAST IMPROVEMENT OVER THE SELECTION METHODS IN MOST STATES, WHICH ARE MONEY DRIVEN AND INFLUENCE TAINTED. WE HAVE HAD JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN SOUTH CAROLINA, THE HALLMARK OF THE STABILITY OF THE RULE OF LAW, BECAUSE OF OUR METHOD OF JUDICIAL SELECTION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. BUT NO SYSTEM IS PERFECT, AND OURS HAS THE FLAW THAT ALTHOUGH IT REFLECTS, FAIRLY CLOSELY, THE DIVERSITY PERCENTAGES WITHIN SOUTH CAROLINA'S LICENSED LAWYERS, IT DOES NOT REPRESENT THE DIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA'S POPULATION. THIS IS A PROBLEM OF EDUCATING MORE MINORITY LAWYERS AS WELL AS AN ISSUE OF JUDICIAL SELECTION. I KNOW EACH OF YOU WILL WORK TO ENSURE THAT OUR JUDICIAL OFFICERS REFLECT THE FACE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

BUDGET

I DON'T NEED TO HAMMER YOU ABOUT THIS ISSUE. I SAT IN YOUR SEAT AS A MEMBER IN TOUGH FINANCIAL TIMES. I SIMPLY SAY THANK YOU TO HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP. SPEAKER WILKINS, CHAIRMAN HARRELL, SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR LIMEHOUSE, SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS COBB-HUNTER AND MCGEE, REPRESENTATIVE YOUNG AND SENATE CHAIRMAN LEATHERMAN, PRESIDENT MCCONNELL, SENATORS HUTTO, LAND, MOORE AND J. VERNE SMITH. I KNOW YOU'LL DO WHAT YOU CAN.

TORT REFORM

THIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS APPROPRIATELY EMBARKED UPON A THOUGHTFUL EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE TORT SYSTEM IN SOUTH CAROLINA. I SUPPORT AND APPLAUD THESE EFFORTS. THERE IS NO REASON FOR SOUTH CAROLINA COURT'S TO BE RANKED IN THE 40's IN BUSINESS CLIMATE BY THE U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. THE BIGGEST COMPLAINT I HEAR FROM THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS ABOUT OUR VENUE LAWS. REVISION IN THESE LAWS WILL DO MUCH TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD. I APPLAUD THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE BIILL IT HAS PASSED. I'M SURE THE SENATE WILL HAVE ADDITIONAL GOOD IDEAS. THE PROGRESS OF OUR STATE WILL BE ENHANCED BY PASSAGE OF TORT REFORM LEGISLATION.

FINAL WORDS ON TECHNOLOGY

TECHNOLOGY IS NOW INTEGRAL TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA COURTS. E-MAIL AND THE WEB ARE NOW AS FUNDAMENTAL TO MODERN LIFE AS RUNNING WATER AND ELECTRICITY. TECHNOLOGY IN THE COURT ROOM IS AS MUCH A FIXTURE AS THE AMERICAN FLAG.

CONCLUSION

BUT ALL THE REENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY WILL NEVER SUBSTITUTE FOR THE HARD WORK OF YOUR STATEWIDE JUDICIARY.

NOW LET ME INTRODUCE THE NEXT GENERATION OF HARD WORKERS. THIS IS MY GRANDSON, PATRICK, PRACTICING TO RUN A FRONT END LOADER AT OUR FAMILY'S LEXINGTON MINES. THIS IS THE FUTURE FOR WHICH WE ALL WORK.

GODSPEED AND GOD BLESS.