South Carolina Takes Fast Track Jury Trials Statewide
On March 7, 2013, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal entered an Administrative Order recognizing the successful ad hoc use of a Fast Track jury trial process in South Carolina and implementing the voluntary process statewide. The Court also adopted Rules and Procedures for the Fast Track jury trial process, which apply in the absence of agreement of counsel otherwise. The Fast Track jury trial process has been highly successful in Charleston County, where the attorney-controlled program has provided more predictability in the face of a rolling docket and increased pretrial management from a special referee jointly selected and hired by the attorneys. 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. The Fast Track jury trial accounted for nearly half of the total civil jury trials in Charleston County in 2006 and nearly one-quarter in 2007 through 2010. While the process has generally been used for simple automobile torts, there are examples where it has been used for larger dollar-value cases, and program supporters have advocated that the program has the potential for broader applicability.
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