General Information About SC Federal Courts

All federal district courts in South Carolina are part of the District of South Carolina, which is in the Fourth Circuit. The District of South Carolina has eleven divisions, but there are federal courthouses in only seven locations: Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Florence, Spartanburg, Anderson and Aiken. There are fourteen United States District Court judges in South Carolina and nine federal magistrate judges.

All cases in the District of South Carolina are subject to the Local Rules, which were last updated in August 2014. You can access the Local Rules for the District of South Carolina at http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/navtop/rules.asp.

A map of the divisions is available at http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/Court/division.asp.

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General Information About South Carolina's State Courts

There are 46 counties in South Carolina. South Carolina’s state courts are divided into 16 circuits, with two to five counties in each circuit. The civil trial court level is the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas. A circuit map can be found here: https://www.sccourts.org/circuitCourt/circuitMap.cfm.

There is a courthouse in each county, which is served by a popularly elected Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court is responsible for managing the docket in that county, receiving fees and costs, maintenance of court records, and other related duties. Information regarding the Clerk of Court in each county can be found here: http://sccourts.org/clerksCourt/clerkListCoPF.cfm.

The Clerks of Court accept filings in any case filed in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas, and it depends on the county as to whether the filing must be done electronically or by traditional paper. South Carolina has initiated an e-filing pilot program, which does not yet apply to all 46 counties. Information about which counties have begun e-filing can be found here: http://sccourts.org/efiling/.

Out-of-state pro hac vice attorneys cannot file documents in state court, it must be done by local counsel. Publicly available filings and court rosters are available on the public index: http://sccourts.org/caseSearch/.

There are approximately 68 state court judges. A roster of the judges can be found here: http://sccourts.org/circuitCourt/cirJudgeListPF.cfm. Each of the 16 circuits has at least one resident circuit judge who maintains an office in the judge’s home county within the circuit. The larger circuits typically have two or more resident judges. Even judges elected to serve in a particular circuit are often assigned to preside in counties outside of their home county. For example, you may argue a motion in Charleston County before a judge who is a resident of Richland County. The assignment of judges to terms of court can be found here: http://sccourts.org/calendar/dspCCJudgeAsgPrint.cfm. There is a Chief Administrative judge in each circuit assigned to address civil cases.

Generally, cases are not assigned to a specific judge. Thus, different judges may hear motions in the case or preside as the trial judge. If a case is complex, the parties can seek to have the case designated as complex and assigned to a specific judge. The procedure for complex case assignment can be found here: http://sccourts.org/whatsnew/displaywhatsnew.cfm?indexID=339. Cases may be assigned to the Business Court and handled by the Business Court Judge for that Circuit.

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Pro Hac Vice Admission to State Court

Rule 404 of the South Carolina Appellate Rules governs pro hac vice admission. http://sccourts.org/courtReg/index.cfm. To be admitted pro hac vice in South Carolina, an out-of-state attorney must submit an application to the South Carolina Supreme Court Office of Bar Admission along with a fee of $250.00. The application form can be downloaded from the South Carolina Judicial Department website at https://www.sccourts.org/forms/dspformID.cfm?formID=Rule%20404.

Thereafter, a motion for admission pro hac vice may be filed in a pending action, provided that a regular member of the South Carolina Bar is associated as attorney of record in the case. The application and a certificate of good standing from the highest court in another state must be filed with the motion. Like all motions in South Carolina, Rule 11 of the SCRCP requires consultation with opposing counsel before filing the motion. There is a filing fee to file the motion in the action.

Duties of local counsel
Rule 404 of Appellate Rules requires that the South Carolina attorney of record must be prepared to go forward with the case; sign all papers subsequently filed; and attend all subsequent proceedings in the matter. Rule 11 of the SCRCP requires that at least one attorney of record who is admitted to practice law in South Carolina shall sign every pleading, motion or other paper of a party represented by an attorney.

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The South Carolina Lawyer's Oath

On October 22, 2003, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a new Lawyer’s Oath. The Lawyer’s Oath includes specific provisions relating to civility. Attorneys admitted pro hac vice are required to comply with the requirements of the South Carolina Lawyer’s Oath that can be found at: https://www.sccourts.org/courtOrders/displayOrder.cfm?orderNo=2003-10-22-03.

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Pro Hac Vice Admission in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina

Any attorney who is a member in good standing of the Bar of a U.S. District Court and the Bar of the highest court of any State or the District of Columbia is eligible for pro hac vice admission in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina upon motion of an attorney admitted to practice in the Court. Under South Carolina’s Local Rules, any motion seeking pro hac vice admission must include:

1. An Application and Affidavit setting forth the applicant’s qualifications for admission and agreement to abide by ethical standards governing the practice of law in the Court;

2. A certificate of good standing from the highest court of a State where the applicant regularly practices law that has been by such court issued within 30 days of the application; and

3. An application fee of $250.00.

The application must be completed using the forms prescribed by the Court. The Application and Affidavit form is available here: http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/FORMS/index.asp. In addition, the motion for admission must also include a certificate of consultation with opposing counsel pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.02.

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If you need local counsel in South Carolina, call us at 864-327-5000.
For more information about our practice and attorneys, visit www.gibbesburton.com.

Gibbes Burton, LLC, 308 East St. John Street, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29302

 

 

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