Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
Court News

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

JEAN HOEFER TOAL
CHIEF JUSTICE

1231 GERVAIS STREET
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA  29201
TELEPHONE:  (803) 734-1080
FAX:  (803) 734-1167

MEMORANDUM

TO: 

All Magistrates and Municipal Judges


FROM: 

The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal

RE:  

Results from the DUI/DUAC Disposition Orders

DATE:   

September 6, 2011

Over the last year, I was made aware of a growing backlog of DUI/DUAC cases in our State's summary courts. The reasons for the backlogs were attributed to a variety of factors, from the inability of summary court judges to efficiently manage their dockets because of (1) the difficulty in getting defense attorneys and prosecutors in their courtrooms at the same time and (2) the inability of arresting officers to meet their court obligations. After reviewing the summary courts’ caseload information, I issued orders statewide requiring that each summary court dispose or substantially attempt to dispose of all pending DUI/DUAC cases over the next four-months (March 21, 2011 through July 21, 2011). In conjunction with the issuance of those orders, I made written contact with the circuit and family court judges, solicitors and local prosecutors, defense attorneys and state and local law enforcement asking for their support with this endeavor. Those documents, as well as the disposition orders issued to the summary courts, may be accessed at the following link:   http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/displaywhatsnew.cfm?indexID=721.

I have now collected caseload/disposition information for the time period covered by the disposition orders. That data is summarized in several attachments to this memorandum. Attachment A, the DUI/DUAC CMS Magistrate/Municipal Caseload Report, summarizes the general DUI/DUAC caseload and disposition information from March 21 through July 21, 2011 for those counties and municipalities that are on the Statewide Case Management System (CMS). Attachment B, Non-CMS DUI/DUAC Caseload Report, summarizes that same information from those municipalities that do not participate in CMS. Finally, Attachment C, the DUI/DUAC Disposition Comparison, compares the CMS Magistrate/Municipal court disposition data reported during the effective dates of the disposition orders to the disposition data of those same courts during the four month period prior to the issuance of the orders, November 21, 2010 through March 20, 2011. Attachment C also delineates those dispositions by type of disposition.

The aggregate totals for the CMS Magistrate/Municipal Caseload Report are provided at the end of Attachment A. On the date of the issuance of the orders, March 21, 2011, those courts had a total of 16,069 DUI/DUAC cases pending statewide. During the four month period, 8675 of those cases were disposed, which represents an aggregate disposal rate of 54% of the cases that were pending as of the date of the issuance of the orders. I provide below the top five counties in the State and the bottom five counties in the State in terms of rates of disposition of DUI/DUAC cases which were pending on March 21, 2011.

 

County

Cases Pending as of 3/21/11

Cases Disposed Subject to Order

Percentage Cases Disposed Subject to Order

1.

Edgefield

16

16

100%

2.

Williamsburg

44

44

100%

3.

Marion

109

105

96.3%

4.

Abbeville

44

41

93.2%

5.

Berkeley

227

208

91.6%

 

42.

Chester

347

53

15.3%

43.

Lee

149

22

14.8%

44.

Sumter

953

135

14.2%

45.

Laurens

325

41

12.6%

46.

Marlboro

220

24

10.9%

Attachment A also includes the number of new DUI/DUAC cases made by law enforcement during that four-month period. The document then combines those new cases with the remaining pending cases from the March 21, 2011 order, and indicates in the last column the percentage increase or decrease in total pending cases from March 21, 2011 through July 21, 2011 for each county. I provide below the top five counties in the State and the bottom five counties in the State in terms of reduction in the number of total pending DUI/DUAC charges.

 

County

Total Cases Pending During Period*

Total Cases Disposed During 3/21/11-7/21/11

Total Cases Remaining on 7/21/11

Percentage Increase (+) /Decrease (-)

1.

Abbeville

47

41

6

-86.4%

2.

Lancaster

458

367

91

-77.9%

3.

Marion

141

105

36

-67%

4.

Colleton

199

123

76

-55.3%

5.

Lexington

769

500

269

-53.5%

 

42.

Lee

175

22

153

+2.7%

43.

Darlington

1,082

186

896

+5%

44.

Marlboro

259

24

235

+6.8%

45.

Aiken

221

78

143

+7.5%

46.

Chesterfield

244

78

166

+12.9%

*Includes cases pending on 3/21/11 and new cases added between 3/21/11 and 7/21/11.

The aggregate totals for the non-CMS municipal courts are provided at the end of Attachment B. On the date of the issuance of the orders, those courts had a total of 4249 DUI/DUAC cases pending. During the four month period, 2754 of those cases were disposed, which represents an aggregate disposal rate of 64.8% of the cases that were pending as of the date of the issuance of orders. From the information we received from those courts, 607 new DUI/DUAC cases were filed during that four-month period. When combined with the undisposed cases remaining from the time of the issuance of the orders, those courts had 1884 cases pending as of July 21, 2011. That represents a 65.7% decrease in total pending cases from the time of the issuance of the orders to July 21, 2011.

Finally, Attachment C provides a comparison of the disposition of CMS Magistrate/Municipal DUI/DUAC cases for the four months during the term of the disposition orders to the four months prior to the issuance of the orders. Those summary courts statewide disposed of 11,091 DUI/DUAC cases during the term of the disposition orders, and 6034 during the four months that preceded the issuance of the disposition orders.  Therefore, the CMS participating summary courts disposed of 45.6% more DUI/DUAC cases during the term of the orders as opposed to the four months prior to the issuance of the disposition orders. Those counties and municipalities that were more successful in disposing of these cases attributed their progress to the willingness of courts of higher jurisdiction to release counsel to those courts when requested, solicitors increased presence in prosecuting their cases, the heightened ability to scrutinize continuance requests, and the fact that they were under Order of the Chief Justice to do so.

Overall, the CMS participating summary courts reduced their pending DUI/DUAC cases by 25.7% in a four-month period, and that number is encouraging. However, given the controlled setting in which they were operating, I remain concerned that those courts will be unable to maintain those numbers given the huge volume of charges that are regularly made by law enforcement. I intend to continue to monitor the status of DUI/DUAC cases for the summary courts. The information gathered will be used to make additional recommendations to the courts, and may also be submitted to the General Assembly for their consideration. In the meantime, it is my hope that all involved have learned from this process and will use that knowledge by handling future cases in a fair and expeditious manner. I ask that all parties remain diligent and committed to their respective roles in order to protect and maintain the safety of the citizens of this State.

JHT/mhb

cc:        Circuit and Family Court Judges
            Solicitors
            Public Defenders