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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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2012-11-21-06

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

RE:  Duties of Family Court Chief Judges for Administrative Purposes


ORDER


Pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution and S. C. Code Ann. §63-3-20,

IT IS ORDERED that the authority of a family court judge designated as a chief judge for administrative purposes shall include, but not be limited to, the following administrative purposes and acts:

1. To call, or cause to be called, meetings of the county bar associations within the circuit for the purpose of preparing trial rosters and for such other purposes as they shall deem necessary.  In any circuit with two chief judges for administrative purposes, each chief judge may call, or cause to be called, these meetings for the county for which he or she has been designated as chief judge.

2. To set an ABC Trial Roster for all terms of family court and designate which presiding judge shall hear such trial roster or rosters.  All contested "A" cases set for three or more hours are to be backed up by a "B" case and a "C" case.  If the "A" case goes to trial, the "B" and "C" cases are to be continued and rescheduled as an "A" case.  If any of the "A", "B", or "C" cases settle, the presiding judge shall conduct a hearing to approve the settlement and dispose of the case(s) before commencing the contested case.  In any circuit with two chief judges for administrative purposes, each chief judge shall set the trial rosters and designate which presiding judge shall hear the trial roster or rosters for the county for which he or she has been designated as chief judge. 

3.To establish ABC Trial Rosters that equitably assign cases to each presiding judge in all instances where multiple judges are presiding over concurrent terms of family court.

4. To review the list of proposed cases submitted by DSS Child Protective Services for the development of and inclusion on the trial roster.  A status conference for a matter on the list of proposed cases or trial roster may be scheduled at any time.  

5. To review the list of proposed Juvenile cases submitted by the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Solicitor's Office for the development of and inclusion on the trial roster.  A status conference for a matter on the list of proposed cases or trial roster may be scheduled at any time.

6. To hold all temporary hearings within four weeks of the request for such hearing being filed.  To ensure that this timeline is met, the chief judge for administrative purposes, with the assistance of the docketing clerk, shall monitor the scheduling of these matters.  In all temporary hearings allotted fifteen minutes, each party shall be limited to eight pages of affidavits, excluding proposed parenting plans, financial declarations, attorneys' fees affidavits, and attachments or exhibits offered only as verification of information in the affidavits.  Parties wishing to exceed the fifteen minutes limit must request additional time from the scheduling clerk.  Any temporary hearing requiring more than thirty minutes must be deemed complex upon application to the chief judge.

7. To equitably apportion a multi-county term among the designated counties.

8. To assist the clerk of court in fulfilling his or her responsibility pursuant to S. C. Code Ann. §14-17-210(1976) to assign courtrooms and offices to the presiding circuit and family court judges.

9. To assure where practicable that family court convenes each day of a term within the guidelines specified by the Chief Justice.  In any circuit with two chief judges for administrative purposes, each chief judge shall be responsible for the county for which he or she has been designated as chief judge.

10. To coordinate the activities of the family court with other affected persons and agencies to ensure cooperation and effective judicial service.  In any circuit with two chief judges for administrative purposes, each chief judge shall coordinate the activities of the family court for the county for which he or she has been designated as chief judge.

11. To direct the clerks of court and presiding judges to keep and maintain such records as deemed necessary, upon the approval of the Chief Justice, of the disposition of cases during each term of family court.  To help increase the reliability of caseload information, regularly review the lists of pending cases in the records maintained by the clerks of court with the data collected and reported by the South Carolina Judicial Department and bring any discrepancies to the attention of the clerks of court so that the records may be reconciled.

12. To grant continuances when requested by counsel or self-represented litigants for good and sufficient legal cause stated in writing prior to the commencement of any term of court.

13. To resolve any scheduling and other administrative problems which arise in conducting the terms of family court.

14. To ensure that all matters that arise during the weeks designated as "in chambers" are heard within the time frames set by statute or rule.

15. To consider requests to be relieved of appointments to serve as counsel or guardian ad litem for indigents pursuant to Rule 608(f)(3), SCACR.

16. To perform such other administrative duties as shall be assigned from time to time by the Chief Justice.

17. Except as specifically authorized herein, no rule affecting the operation of the courts shall be adopted without the prior approval of the Chief Justice.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that when a chief judge for administrative purposes has a conflict in a matter or proceeding and is thereby prevented from performing these duties in a matter or proceeding reserved to the chief judge for administrative purposes, the following procedures shall be followed:

a.  In those circuits with only one chief administrative judge, the matter or proceeding shall be referred to the Chief Justice for assignment to a chief administrative judge of an adjoining circuit to administer.

b. In those circuits with two chief administrative judges, the matter or proceeding shall be referred to the other chief administrative judge to administer. If the other chief administrative judge is also disqualified, the matter or proceedings shall be referred to the  Chief  Justice for assignment to a chief administrative judge of an adjoining circuit to administer.

c. Should the chief administrative judge(s) in the circuit and those in the adjoining circuits be disqualified, the matter or proceeding shall be referred to the Chief Justice for assignment to a chief administrative judge of another circuit to administer.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if a trial or hearing has commenced and the judge is unable to proceed, the chief judge for administrative purposes shall assign the trial or hearing to a successor judge.  If the chief administrative judge has a conflict and is thereby prevented from performing this duty, the matter shall be referred to the Chief Justice to assign a successor judge.  The successor judge may proceed with the trial or hearing upon certifying familiarity with the record and determining that the proceedings may be completed without prejudice to the parties.  The successor judge shall at the request of a party recall any witness whose testimony is material and disputed and who is available to testify without undue burden.  A successor judge may provide for the recall of any witness.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Order dated June 28, 2007 is rescinded.  This Order shall remain in effect until amended or rescinded by Order of the Chief Justice.

  s/Jean H. Toal
Jean Hoefer Toal
Chief Justice

November 21, 2012
Columbia, South Carolina