Observations from a central jury court roster meeting

Some observations from a roster meeting for Horry County Central Jury Court last week:
– There are a whole lot of civil lawyers sitting in the courtroom, sign of the times? When the real estate market goes south, suddenly there is a new group of “DUI/ traffic lawyers” in town.
– For the civil lawyers: some things you can negotiate at a roster meeting in CJC and some things you can’t. Just set your cases for trial, that’s the point of a roster meeting in central jury court. The municipal courts are different.
– I have a client who was charged with kidnapping and criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature four years ago. We asked for a trial. They remanded it to magistrate court as a criminal domestic violence first offense. We asked for a trial. They sent it back to General Sessions as a CDVHAN. We asked for a trial. They remanded it to magistrate court again as a CDV first offense. We asked for a trial. Then filed a motion to dismiss for violation of my client’s right to a speedy trial. At the roster meeting, just before the motion is scheduled to be heard, the assistant solicitor tells me that they have sent the case back to General Sessions as a CDVHAN. My client is tired of the games.
– If you are pro-se you are probably not going to get a continuance. Doesn’t hurt to try, though.
– If you are pro-se and ask for a public defender you are probably not going to get any help from the court. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that you are entitled to an attorney on a lower court charge only if you are sentenced to jail time. Which means you don’t know if you are entitled to an attorney until after you’ve been sentenced, at which point you can file an appeal. Of course, you probably would not know this unless you had an attorney to tell you. Also, our chief justice has instructed the magistrates not to give you an attorney.
– Former Circuit Court judges suffer through roster meetings like everyone else, when they take on a traffic case.
– It seems like more people are representing themselves and requesting jury trials pro se. Another sign of the times?
– It always amazes me when an attorney stands up at a roster meeting and announces that he/she has had no contact with their client and does not know where they are, then moves to be relieved from their case. I am assuming that the client paid them to represent them on the charge – now the attorney doesn’t know where they are so they will throw the client to the wolves? So far when I’ve had this happen, the prosecutor assumes I will ask to be relieved, and I have told them that I will try the case in the client’s absence if necessary. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

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