By Order of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, jury trials will resume November 9, 2020.
Individuals claiming to be court officers or law enforcement officers may contact you stating a warrant has been issued for your failure to appear for jury duty. These individuals will also try to verify your personal information and/or tell you that the warrant can be taken care of by paying a fine with your credit card or by obtaining a pre-paid debit card.
Do not give out any sensitive personal information. Court officials will not ask for confidential information or money over the phone. If you believe you have been a victim of a jury scam, contact your local police agency to file a report about the incident.
Each year, the State Election Commission provides Charleston County with a list containing the names of registered voters, persons holding valid driver's licenses, and persons with state identification cards. Duplicate names and persons under the age of 18 have already been stricken from the list by the state. This list is on a magnetic tape and is used by Charleston County to create a computer file from which jurors are selected. The jury selection computer program insures that jurors are selected entirely at random.
Jury selection takes place at different times and frequencies, depending on the number of jury trials scheduled by the various County Courts. The county Grand Jurors, who are responsible for evaluating evidence presented by the prosecution to determine whether a person will be tried or not, are selected only twice each year. The Common Pleas and General Sessions juries, also known as petit jurors, are drawn on a weekly basis.
Persons chosen for jury service in the Courts of General Sessions and Common Pleas are exempted from further service in those courts for a period of three years following the year in which they served. The computer selection program marks the names of persons selected for service so that they cannot be chosen again until their exemption period has passed. However, this does not prevent you from being picked to serve on a Magistrate's Court jury, Coroner's Court jury or a Municipal Court jury. The exemption period for Grand Jurors is five years following the year of service.
Persons chosen for jury duty in a Magistrate's Court are exempted from selection for additional service in a Magistrate's Court for a period of three months following the month and year in which they served. This exemption does not affect the possibility of being selected to serve on a Common Pleas, General Sessions or Coroner's Court jury.
Persons chosen for jury service in the Coroner's Court are exempted from further service for a period of one year following the year in which they served. Like the other courts, the exemption only applies to selection within the Coroner's Court and does not prevent selection for service by another court.
Municipal Courts select juries independently of the County Courts, and may have different rules regarding jury selection and service.
Unless you are disqualified, exempted, or have been excused by the Clerk of Court you are required to appear in court at the day and time specified on the jury summons. Failure to appear may result in a citation for contempt of court, and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. Persons seeking to be excused should contact the jury clerk. If you do not contact the jury clerk, or should the jury clerk be unable to excuse you, you are required to appear on the first day of the jury term and request the judge to excuse you. Call 843-958-5005 and ask to speak to the Jury Clerk if you have any further questions.
You may be disqualified from jury service (not allowed to serve) if:
Failure to state such disqualifying facts upon questioning by the judge, clerk of court or hearing officer is punishable as contempt of court. Likewise, furnishing false or misleading information on a Juror Response Form may also subject you to penalties for contempt of court. If you have been summoned to appear as a juror in the Court of Common Pleas, or the Court of General Sessions, you should have received a Juror Response Form with your summons. If you meet any of the above-named criteria for disqualification, you should indicate as much on your Response Form and return within two calendar days it in the return envelope furnished and it will not be necessary for you to appear on the date specified on the summons.
You have the choice to serve or not serve if you are over sixty-five years old, or if you were inadvertently summoned after having served within the past three calendar years as a circuit court juror. If you meet any of the above-listed criteria for exemption, you should indicate as much on your Response Form and return it in the return envelope within two calendar days. If you return the form in time it will not be necessary for you to appear on the date specified on the summons.
You may ask the presiding Judge to excuse you from jury service if you can show good and sufficient reason by application filed with the clerk of court, showing why you should not have to serve. Typical reasons might include temporary or permanent physical disability, people with children under the age of seven without means of providing adequate care while performing jury duty, or primary caretakers of a disabled person or a person age 65 or older who cannot care for themself. Before you can be excused for one of these reasons, you may be asked to furnish an affidavit to the Clerk of Court.
Persons seeking to be excused for any reason should speak with the presiding Judge. Typically, you will not be excused for work-related reasons. It is against the law for an employer to penalize you for performing jury service or to prevent you from serving as a juror. If you are currently involved in an important project, going out of town on business or having to work extra hours, you may be able to reschedule your jury service to a more convenient date. You should contact the jury clerk at (843) 958-5005 if you wish to reschedule your jury service for another term of court.
Yes; persons seeking a postponement of service should contact the Clerk of Court. You will be asked to state your reasons for seeking the postponement, but postponements are generally granted for good cause. Typical reasons might be a student with final exams scheduled for the same week as the jury term, someone recovering from a serious illness, or a business person who expects to be out-of-town on business. If the postponement is allowed, you will be informed of a new date on which to report for jury duty. Your jury service may be postponed only one time.
Juror compensation is set by Charleston County Council. You will be compensated for your service as a juror at a rate of $25 per day. You will be paid for each day you are required to report for service. Mileage is reimbursed at a rate of 54.5 cents per mile per day, and is calculated based on an average distance from your zip code. Free parking is available at the Cumberland Street Garage, 90 Cumberland Street, located two blocks north of the Judicial Center.
Vending machines are available in the snack bar area located on the first floor of the Judicial Center. There are also a variety of restaurants within walking distance of the courthouse. In some instances, snacks and meals may be provided by the court.
Your service will normally be only for one week. Numerous courts may be in session during the term for which you have been selected to serve. Cases set for trial may be postponed or settled just as they are scheduled to begin, and other cases may be moved up on the Jury Trial Roster. Since it is impossible to predict the outcome of the cases on the Roster, you should plan to be with us the entire week. The hours of court operation are determined by the presiding Judge; however, court generally begins each day at 9:30 AM and adjourns at approximately 5:30 PM. At the end of each day or if dismissed earlier, you should make sure that you know where and at what time you should report on the next day.
The Judiciary requires appropriate attire in the courtroom; specifically no tank tops, shorts, hats or "flip-flop" sandals are allowed. Jurors may also want to bring a sweater or jacket since the courtrooms are often cool.
You aren't required to bring anything with you, although you may wish to bring a book or magazine to read during any delays or waiting periods; do not bring newspapers. Because of the need for quiet, you should not bring items such as computer games. Also, you may not bring activated cellular phones or pagers into the courtroom.
When you arrive at the Judicial Center, you will be required to pass through a metal detector. This metal detector is provided for the security of yourself and others. The guards on duty are required to confiscate such contraband items as guns, knives, mace, or other implements which could be used as weapons or are considered a danger to the court. If you own such items, you should leave them at home.
There are certain rules of behavior that a juror should follow. Foremost among these is the requirement to always be on time. Delays inconvenience the judge, the attorney's, the parties, witnesses and other jurors. When a court session begins and the judge enters the courtroom, everyone including the jurors, should rise. You should always give your undivided attention to every question and answer during a trial, and during the voir dire process. You must answer all questions put to you with complete honesty. You should attempt to be as quiet as possible in court, and also when you are in the hallways near the courtrooms.
Your name may never be drawn for a trial. There are many factors involved in selecting a jury for a case, and it may be that you are never actually called upon to deliberate a case. It is also possible that you will be selected to deliberate multiple cases. When you check in with the court at roll call on the first day, you become part of a general jury pool.
From Mt. Pleasant
Take the Cooper River Bridge into Charleston. Get off on Downtown Meeting Street South. Follow Meeting Street south towards the Market area. After you have passed Market Street, continue to the next block, which is Cumberland. Turn Left. The parking garage is directly on your left. When exiting the garage, return to Meeting Street and continue south towards Broad Street. The Judicial Center is between the Historic Courthouse, which sits directly on the corner of Broad and Meeting, and the O.T. Wallace building located on Meeting Street.
From the North Area
Take I-26 headed into the City of Charleston. Get into the far left lane, which says Meeting Street Visitors Information. Continue down Meeting Street towards the Market area. After you have passed Market Street, continue to the next block, which is Cumberland. Turn Left. The parking garage is directly on your left. When exiting the garage, return to Meeting Street and continue south towards Broad Street. The Judicial Center is between the Historic Courthouse, which sits directly on the corner of Broad and Meeting, and the O.T. Wallace building located on Meeting Street.
From James Island
Take the James Island Connector toward downtown Charleston. Exit on Lockwood South and follow onto Broad Street. Follow Broad Street to Meeting Street and turn left onto Meeting. Go two blocks and turn right on Cumberland Street. The garage is on your immediate left. When exiting the garage, return to Meeting Street and continue south towards Broad Street. The Judicial Center is between the Historic Courthouse, which sits directly on the corner of Broad and Meeting, and the O.T. Wallace building located on Meeting Street.
From West Ashley
Take Savannah Highway North/US 17 towards downtown Charleston. Once on the Cross-Town, use the Lockwood South exit. Follow onto Broad Street. Follow Broad Street to Meeting Street and turn left onto Meeting. Go two blocks and turn right on Cumberland Street. The garage is on your immediate left. When exiting the garage, return to Meeting Street and continue south towards Broad Street. The Judicial Center is between the Historic Courthouse, which sits directly on the corner of Broad and Meeting, and the O.T. Wallace building located on Meeting Street.
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