South Carolina Chief Justice approves ‘Get a Lawyer Week’ in Charleston County

Source: Live 5
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:25 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 7:27 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County defendants out on bond who haven’t responded to show up in court are getting a second chance. Charleston County is starting its new initiative this week called Get a Lawyer Week.

This program is specifically for those out on surety or personal recognizance bonds. The court system is hoping this initiative will help reconnect defendants with the court to get their cases resolved.

Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty has authorized the General Sessions Court in Charleston County to hold Get a Lawyer week and Circuit Court Judge Deadra L. Jefferson is overseeing this initiative.

Jefferson says they noticed during the COVID-19 pandemic defendants weren’t showing up for their first or second appearances after their initial arrest. The court system was aware people had relocated or gotten other jobs because of the pandemic.

About 2,000 people have been disconnected, meaning the court system wasn’t able to reach them at their current residence.

Jefferson says they didn’t want to issue bench warrants to those who had gotten disconnected, because the law only requires them to send notice to a person’s last known address.

“If you have not updated that then it puts us in a bit of a quandary in terms of having to issue that process to get people back connected. It seemed kind of drastic to me, especially if someone were just getting stopped on a routine traffic stop,” Jefferson says.

Defendants who can’t hire a lawyer are asked to go to Charleston County’s O. T. Wallace building room 130 at 101 Meeting Street. Screeners will be available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Defendants who can hire a lawyer should be able to avoid a bench warrant if their lawyer files a notice of appearance with the Charleston County Clerk of Court’s Office by July 8th, 2022.

Jefferson says they may be planning to continue this initiative sometime in the future.

Individuals seeking information about General Sessions Court cases in Charleston County should contact the County Clerk of Court’s office.

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