The South Carolina Supreme Court is looking to speed up the process of dealing with the state's growing number of cases.
The court handed down a number of administrative orders Nov. 21, 2012, which affect courts state-wide, including Barnwell County.
The first order establishes a timeline of 28 days to set a temporary hearing in family court once one has been requested. "Hearings on motions for temporary relief shall be set as quickly as possible, but in no event later than four weeks of the filing of the motion," according to the order.
Barnwell County Clerk of Court Rhonda McElveen said there have been times when it took six to eight weeks for a temporary hearing to be set. "This is giving us a set time to do this now," she said.
With a growing number of family court cases, including an average of 142 a month in Barnwell County, McElveen said the court was looking to "expedite proceedings" with their order.
On a related note, the court also issued an order for an ABC trial roster in family court, which is held once a month in Barnwell County.
This labels cases set for three or more hours in court as an "A" case. Each "A" case is followed by a "B" case and a "C" case in the event the "A" case is settled before court.
McElveen said this is to make sure courts across the state are maximizing their time.
Two other orders by the court also deal with maximizing court time, but have faced some opposition. The court denied petitions against the orders, but were put "in abeyance" - or suspended - Dec. 20 pending further action by the Supreme Court.
The orders set a 180-day track for all general sessions court cases. It also establishes how to handle cases if they exceed their track and who should be in charge of it.
Overall, McElveen said these orders are aimed at ensuring the efficiency of courts in the state. "The judicial system is trying to find ways to improve the service to the public."
The orders will also increase her office's workload and that of her colleagues across the state. "It's a lot more work for clerks of court to do," she said.
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