Charleston County Common Pleas Bench Bar Committee
On November 5, 2003, we had a meeting of the Common Pleas Bench Bar Committee. Present were the Honorable Markley Dennis, his law clerk, Bennett Curtis, the Honorable Roger Young, the Honorable Julie Armstrong, Jay McDonald, Don Michel, the Honorable Deadre Jefferson, and myself.
As a follow up to our last meeting concerning the medical liaison committee, if we knew any physicians who were interested in participating in the meetings of this group, they should contact either Malcolm Crosland of the Steinberg Law Firm, or the Charleston Medical Society and ask to be included in the membership on that committee it should not be that difficult. It certainly would be welcome to have those people wishing to serve on these committees to attend and participate because so much assistance is needed with this group.
We have also extended an invitation to John Tiller, with Haynesworth Sinkler & Boyd, PA to join the committee to even up the number of plaintiff and defense attorneys on the committee. I have talked with John and he has agreed to serve. We welcome him.
It was noted that Judge Jefferson will be stepping down as Chief Administrative Judge for the Common Pleas Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit as of December 31, 2003. Judge Jefferson has served in that position for a year and Judge Markley Dennis will be taking over that spot at the start of January. Judge Jefferson wanted to thank everyone for working with her and ensuring a smooth year with Court Administration this past year. Judge Dennis is looking forward to working with everyone in coordinating trial schedules for the up coming year. Judge Jefferson will be taking over as Chief Administrative Judge for General Session Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit as well. Judge Roger Young is back in town for at least the next six months and we are glad to have him back.
It was noted that the Friday roster meetings at 9:30 a.m seem to be working well with the lawyers getting their cases scheduled for trial the following week and that should be continued. It was however, noted that the attorneys with cases on this roster need to make sure that they show up at these roster meetings so that cases can be effectively and properly set for trial. There will be discussions in the up and coming meetings about what to do if this continues to be a problem where lawyers having cases set on the active trial roster are not showing up at these roster meetings. Such remedies that will be further discussed, include the possibility of striking the case from the active trial roster, refiling fees, among other things. It was stressed that if your case is on an active trial roster, you need to attend the roster meetings and advise the court of the status of your case.
Judge Dennis remarked that since he has had good success in Berkeley County with having telephone status conferences with lawyers a set number of months before a case is to be put on the active trial roster, he will be instituting that for Charleston County as well. These telephone status conferences will take place a set number of months before a case has a chance of getting called for trial and will give lawyers as well as the judge an opportunity to discuss where things stand on the case, whether there are any outstanding motions that need to be heard, setting a date for mediation, and setting a time for trial. There is hope that this method will eliminate the problems that arise with written scheduling orders that always have to be maintained and then amended with additional filings with the court. A lot of these telephone status conferences will take place during administrative and in chambers weeks which right now, are set as the weeks of January 12, February 16, March 29, and May 3, and May 10. It was noted that the Ninth Judicial Circuit has been given quite a bit of much needed help from retired Judges Hughston and Rawl. Without them, we would be facing even more back logs with regards to trials and motions hearings.
It was also discussed that the best place to get updated information regarding rosters and judges is simply to go to the state judicial website terms for of court which is located at www.sccourts.org. Once you go there you can click on the calendar and get up to date information on terms of court and judge assignments.
The meeting was adjourned with the next meeting being set for Tuesday, January 13, 2004. If anyone wishes to attend the meetings they are more than welcome to do so. They can contact me ahead of time. Also, if there are any items that people would like to discuss at these meetings, please email or contact me with them as well.