S.C. Appellate Practice and the Coronavirus Emergency

March 25, 2020 - Sarah P. Spruill
The South Carolina Supreme Court (“Court”) has been proactive throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.

It issued its first order on the subject on March 4, 2020, and it has collected all of its related orders here.

With respect to appellate proceedings, the Court has taken unprecedented steps to balance the Appellate Courts’ missions with the needs of the public and attorneys in an order issued on March 20, 2020. “The measures contained in this order are intended to allow essential operations to continue while minimizing the risk to the public, litigants, lawyers and court employees.” As noted by the Court, “[i]n light of the extraordinary challenges presented by the current emergency, this Court finds it necessary to supplement and, in some situations, to alter significantly, the current practices regarding the operation of the Appellate Courts. In the event of a conflict between this order and the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR), this order shall control.”

For quick reference, a summary of those measures with respect to pending appeals is provided below:

  1. All oral arguments are cancelled for now. The Court left room to consider alternate methods of hearing in the event it becomes “appropriate” to schedule arguments while the emergency continues.

  2. All filings will continue to be made in traditional ways contemplated by the SCACR (hand delivery, US mail, and fax (no requirement that it also be sent by US mail)). The Court indicated that e-filing may be on its way, but is not here yet. 

  3. For paper filings, only an original is required—no additional copies are needed. “In the event the Appellate Court determines that additional copies are needed, they will be requested from the lawyer or party submitting the document.” In addition, petitions for a writ of certiorari are not required to be accompanied by an appendix.

  4. Wet signatures are not required (“s/ _________” will suffice).

  5. Service may be accomplished by mail or email on South Carolina attorneys. “For documents that are served by e-mail, a copy of the sent e-mail shall be enclosed with the proof of service, affidavit of service, or certificate of service for that document. “

  6. The Appellate Courts will move to e-mail correspondence with South Carolina attorneys. “Correspondence will not be sent to attorneys admitted pro hac vice; instead, it will be the responsibility of the associated South Carolina lawyer to pass any correspondence on to the pro hac vice attorney.”

  7. With respect to briefings, the Court has extended all due dates (as of March 20) by twenty days, excluding the jurisdictional deadlines for serving notices of appeal. If additional time is needed, the Court has waived the filing fees on extension requests. The Court has further ordered that procedural defaults since March 13, 220 are forgiven if corrected by April 9, 2020.

The order will remain in effect until modified or rescinded. In addition, the Court of Appeals may issue its own supplemental order with additional or different measures (subject to approval by the Court).

If you have questions about this topic or other related matters, please contact Sarah, or a member of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Business Litigation practice group.

For additional resources on COVID-19, please access HSB’s resource page.