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Efficient South Carolina Court Management Produces Results

Efficient South Carolina Court Management Produces Results
(Press Release for 1/22/2003)

On January 22, 2003, Supreme Court Chief Justice Toal, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese, and Chief Administrative Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Henry Floyd, announced the results of the differentiated case management pilot project for the criminal case docket conducted in Richland County during the 2002 calendar year. The purpose of this project was to determine if placing criminal cases on different timeline tracks based upon offense and complexity could reduce criminal backlogs. Richland County has the second highest court caseload in the state and because of the state capitol’s location within Richland County, is also home to some of the most complex litigation in the state.

Differentiated case management is a cooperative process involving law enforcement, solicitors, public defenders, county Bar, and the SC Courts.  Three different tracks were identified and general sessions cases assigned and managed according to those tracks based upon severity and complexity of the criminal charge. The tracks were 120, 180, or 270 days, with the less severe offenses being assigned to the shorter tracks. The most serious crimes of murder and criminal sexual conduct did not fall within the guidelines of any track. Assignment of cases was the responsibility of the Solicitor’s office. The courts then monitored and proactively managed the tracks with the Solicitor and Public Defender to get the cases processed within the deadline. The results were outstanding. The total criminal cases pending in Richland County, as of January 1, 2002, was 6,867. The total criminal cases pending in Richland County, as of January 1, 2003, was 4,847. Nearly one-third of the backlog was reduced during the calendar year 2002. This reduction in backlog of more than 2,000 criminal cases was accomplished while 8,955 new cases were filed. Overall in 2002, this project disposed of 11,450 cases.

This substantial reduction in caseload was achieved during a very difficult financial year for the state and county, each of which endured several budget cuts. This pilot project demonstrates how efficient management can result in productive government that increases public safety, increases accountability, increases responsive service to the public and decreases distraction by improving focus on the criminal justice process. The leadership of the South Carolina Courts, collaboration between the state and county, and cooperation among the various criminal justice entities (law enforcement, solicitors, public defenders, SC Bar, and SC Courts) in this project exemplify the type of success South Carolinians can achieve when working together. This differentiated case management system is based in large part upon a model developed in York County, and is being adapted for use in Greenville, Horry, and Orangeburg Counties.

Judge Henry F. Floyd's Presentation - Differentiated Case Management System