South Carolina Court Records
Due to the capacity to search them online, South Carolina court records are highly available, offering the public and legal professionals access to all types of judiciary records without having to track them down in person. Court records are used for a variety of reasons, including genealogy, finding historical vital records, finding decisions from a similar case that may reflect a personal legal concern, or to provide a historical background when filing a new case.
History of South Carolina Court Records
South Carolina has a lengthy and interesting judicial history, dating back to the earliest appellate court in 1721. Colonists were unhappy under English governance, so they legislated to have appellate jurisdiction over civil cases from what they felt were inferior and unfair justices. This spirit of resistance led to many changes over the years to lead South Carolina to where it is today with a well-composed and balanced judiciary branch.
South Carolina Court Records Availability
The South Carolina Appellate Case Management System allows you to search online for criminal and civil court proceedings by case title, appellate case number, last name, inmate number, and Bar number. This system is available online and to the public.
Alternatively, court records can be found on-site at the Supreme Court Library which has an expansive collection of over 40,000 volumes of legal written materials. This library primarily serves the Supreme Court and other state agencies, but they are also open for public viewing.
Main Court Information
The Supreme Court is the highest appellate court of South Carolina and is deemed the court of last resort. It is composed of a Chief Justice and four associate justices that each serve terms of ten years. The Court of Appeals was established in 1983 and oversees cases that were appealed from lower courts; it typically consists of a Chief Justice and eight associate justices who make motions in panels or as group.
There are 16 judicial districts for the South Carolina Circuit Courts. These serve as the trial courts of the state and have limited appellate authority over lower courts such as the Magistrate, Probate and Municipal Courts. The Masters-in-Equity have similar authority to the Circuit Courts; however, they do not require the services of a jury. Family Courts of South Carolina have jurisdiction over proceedings such as divorce, adoption, custody and domestic violence. Family Courts are divided in the same manner as the Circuit Courts with at least one per district.
The Court of Common Pleas, the main trial court of South Carolina, had over 91,000 filings in the year 2014; it reached over 99,000 dispositions the same year and had nearly 50,000 cases still pending at the end of the fiscal calendar.