AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — In his first TV interview since being sworn in as the new Second Judicial Circuit Solicitor Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk sits down with Bill Weeks. He discussed a number of topics including challenges his office is now facing due to the pandemic.
“It’s a challenge going back to the basketball. I relate everything to athletics,” Weeks told Shawn about how he runs his office.
Weeks is taking the skills he learned on the hardwood during his time at the University of South Carolina Aiken to the Second Judicial Circuit. “It’s a game where there are high stakes on all sides and very visible. It’s like playing on the floor of Carolina Coliseum. You know you got everybody watching you. I just enjoy that part of being a lawyer. I enjoyed the competitiveness,” he added.
But the game of justice is at a pause as the pandemic puts a strain on the system delaying justice for many.
“I’m walking into this job with more pending cases ever in the history of this circuit,” he said.
This year since coming on board as the chief prosecutor of the Circuit, Weeks says that there were 6,800 pending warrants. About 14 to 1,500 were from Barnwell and Bamberg Counties. The others were out of Aiken County. “At one point we had had down to about 3,000 total, since shutting down at the court systems, we’ve been making very little progress and disposing of the new warrants. We scratched the surface on the new warrants and but old warrants, people if they don’t have to come to court, they’re not beating the doors down to come to court,” he added.
We’ve learned former Solicitor Strom Thurmond, Jr. faced similar challenges. “I think most solicitors in today’s world have more cases than they can say grace over,” Weeks shared. “Strom had a very firm commitment to try to reduce the backlog that he inherited. I wish I had the backlog he inherited when he took over 12 years ago. I’m walking into this job with more pending cases ever in the history of this circuit. So we’re going to have a job ahead of us to work on that backlog,” he added.
Shawn asked, “Are you guys to the point where you may be coming to a breaking point when it comes to these cases that you may have to limit your resources as far as making sure that these cases go through?” “I don’t believe we’re at a breaking point. I think it’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I don’t think we’re at a breaking point,” Weeks said. “The jails were able to keep it a reasonable number and so long as we can get back in court, one day, I believe some of this stuff will would resolve itself,” he added.
There may be a chance for the office to request additional resources but that’s not on the minds of those working there now. “I ain’t got no place to put them and I don’t have any court for them to perform in,” he shared. It’s not like I need new lawyers as I’m sitting here right now, but two months, three months, four months, six months down the road, as much help as I can get will be good,” he added.
For Weeks, victory is the goal when comes to making sure justice is served for those seeking it. “The judicial system is a real victim of the pandemic from not having live court, to not having jury venires, that could try cases, but we’re gonna all adjust at some point. I do not want to see my victim suffer any more than necessary. but this delay, delay, delay that we’re in now, really impacts on victims of violent crimes,” the top prosecutor said.
Weeks also discussed his time in Aiken, his rose through the ranks at the Solicitor Office, and projects the previous solicitor left that he would like to tackle.
Shawn will have the rest of that conversation here on WJBF.com soon.