Second Judicial Circuit facing backlog in cases following pandemic


AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — South Carolina’s Second Judicial Circuit is facing a backlog in cases following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year since coming on board as the chief prosecutor of the Circuit, Bill 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,” Weeks told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “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, we 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 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 for 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.

In addition to discussing the court backlog, Weeks also talked about his time in Aiken, and his rise through the ranks at the Solicitor Office, and other items.

Shawn will have that part of the conversation Saturday morning on Good Morning Augusta.

Photojournalists: Brandon Dawson/Shawn Cabbagestalk

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