Measures taken after March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19 included shutdowns of many court operations, including jury trials. Unfortunately, crime continued unabated.
As a result, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office confronted a record 5,745 pending cases by the end of May 2021. If the office were to continue disposing of cases at the same rate as it has in years immediately preceding the pandemic, it would take seven years just to clear the backlog.
However, Solicitor Duffie Stone has a plan to reduce the backlog much faster and to provide monthly updates like this one to track our progress.
In June 2021, the number of pending cases grew again, to 5,896. However, we disposed of 32 more cases circuit-wide than we did in May, allowing us to slow the rate of the backlog’s growth. April’s resumption of jury trials in South Carolina should help us blunt — and eventually reverse — the growth trend as regular court activities resume. Importantly, our solicitors have been effective in jury trials, securing convictions and lengthy prison sentences in a late-night Hilton Head Island killing, a northern Beaufort County ax murder, a Colleton County domestic dispute and the sexual assault of two young Bluffton-area girls.
This chart shows the most recent performance, with total cases shown in the top line in blue, new cases in red and the number of closed or “disposed” cases in yellow.
For historical context, this chart shows our pre-pandemic reduction in overall pending cases …
… and this chart demonstrates the emergence of the backlog during the pandemic.