South Carolina: Fast Track Jury Trial Process
On March 7, 2013, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina entered an Administrative Order implementing a voluntary Fast Track jury trial process statewide. An attorney-controlled program has been in place for several years in several counties in South Carolina, including Charleston County where the program has been highly successful. The National Center for State Courts recently studied the program in Charleston County as part of a collected study of short, summary, and expedited programs around the country. The NCSC’s study provides an in-depth look at the history and success of the program in South Carolina. Along with the statewide expansion, the Court has also promulgated Rules and Procedures for the Fast Track jury trial process, which apply in the absence of agreement of counsel otherwise, as well as a form Consent Order for the Fast Track Jury Trial and Appointment of Special Hearing Officer. The Rules provide for removal of the case from the docket and the setting of a mutually convenient trial date, as well as the timing for the exchange of documentary evidence to be used at trial and a pretrial conference. Fast Track juries will consist of no more than six jurors, trial is expected to last no longer than one day, and the result is a binding jury verdict, subject to any written high/low stipulations agreed upon by the parties.