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764Ratification Number: 220Act Number: 418Type of Legislation: Joint Resolution JRIntroducing Body: SenateIntroduced Date: 19990427Primary Sponsor: Judiciary Committee SJ 11All Sponsors: Judiciary CommitteeDrafted Document Number: l:\s-jud\bills\\jud0058.11.docDate Bill Passed both Bodies: 20000113Date of Last Amendment: 20000112Governor's Action: SDate of Governor's Action: 20000225Subject: Civil Cases in Circuit and Magistrates Courts Study Task Force establishedHistory Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ ______________________________________ _______ ____________ ------ 20001108 Act No. A418 ------ 20000225 Signed by Governor ------ 20000223 Ratified R220 Senate 20000113 Concurred in House amendment, enrolled for ratification House 20000113 Read third time, returned to Senate with amendment House 20000112 Amended, read second time House 19990630 Debate adjourned House 19990603 Recalled from Committee 25 HJ House 19990504 Introduced, read first time, 25 HJ referred to Committee Senate 19990429 Read third time, sent to House Senate 19990428 Read second time Senate 19990427 Unanimous consent for second and third reading on the next two consecutive Legislative days Senate 19990427 Introduced, read first time, placed on Calendar without reference Versions of This Bill Revised on April 27, 1999 - Word format Revised on June 3, 1999 - Word format Revised on January 12, 2000 - Word format
(A418, R220, S764)
A JOINT RESOLUTION TO ESTABLISH A TASK FORCE TO STUDY AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS AND REPORT ON THE STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL RAMIFICATIONS OF VARIOUS METHODS FOR IMPROVING AND ASSURING THE SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CIVIL CASES IN CIRCUIT COURTS AND MAGISTRATES COURTS.
Whereas, according to South Carolina Court Administration, the total number of cases filed in this state's circuit courts has increased from 149,911 in the 1994-95 fiscal year to 173,111 in the 1997-98 fiscal year; and
Whereas, approximately thirty percent of those cases filed from 1994 to 1998 were civil and approximately seventy percent were criminal; and
Whereas, in the 1997-98 fiscal year, 52,748 civil cases were disposed of in circuit courts with an average case age of 273.2 days from the time of filing to the date closed; and
Whereas, in 1996, magistrates courts disposed of 984,191 cases and only 203,431, or approximately twenty-one percent, were civil cases; and
Whereas, Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution provides that the "right of trial by jury shall be preserved inviolate" and has been judicially interpreted in Cooper v. Poston, 483 S.E.2d 750 (S.C. Sup. Ct. 1997), as preserving the constitutional right to jury trial as it existed at the time the Constitution of 1868 was adopted and prohibiting the General Assembly from abrogating that right by designating an action as civil and nonjury; and
Whereas, the overwhelming number of criminal cases in circuit courts and magistrates courts combined with limited staffing and options for alternative dispute resolution make it unlikely that a civil litigant, particularly one with a small amount in controversy, will receive a speedy disposition of his claim. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Task force on civil case disposition
SECTION 1. (A) A task force shall be created to study, make recommendations, and report on the statutory and constitutional ramifications of various methods for improving and assuring the speedy disposition of civil cases in circuit courts and magistrates courts.
(B) The task force must consider whether civil cases of twenty-five thousand dollars or less may best be expedited by:
(1) increasing magistrates courts civil jurisdiction to twenty-five thousand dollars;
(2) designating at least one magistrate to handle civil cases for each county;
(3) establishing a new uniform system of small claims courts in addition to existing courts;
(4) mandating mediation and arbitration for civil cases with amounts in controversy of twenty-five thousand dollars or less; or
(5) some other method recommended by the task force.
(C) In addition, the task force must consider whether persons appointed, elected, or employed to work in the judicial process at the county courthouses should be part of a single, separate retirement system.
Membership; report due date
SECTION 2. (A) The task force shall be composed of eighteen members to include:
(1) the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court or his designee;
(2) the Director of the State Retirement System or his designee;
(3) one member of the Senate to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(4) two members of the Senate to be appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee;
(5) one member of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(6) two members of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee;
(7) one member appointed by the Chief Justice to represent the circuit courts;
(8) one member appointed by the Chief Justice to represent the clerks of court;
(9) one member jointly appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to represent magistrates serving in counties with populations of 100,000 or less;
(10) one member jointly appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to represent magistrates serving in counties with populations of more than 100,000;
(11) one member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to represent the counties of this State;
(12) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to represent the counties of this State;
(13) one member jointly appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who is an attorney who primarily represents plaintiffs in the court of common pleas;
(14) one member jointly appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who is an attorney who primarily represents defendants in the court of common pleas;
(15) one member jointly appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who is either a certified mediator or arbitrator; and
(16) one member appointed by the Director of the Department of Insurance who represents the property and casualty insurance industry.
(B) The senior Senator appointed shall call the first meeting of task force members, at which the members shall elect a chairman.
(C) The task force shall submit its report to the General Assembly no later than January 18, 2001, at which time the task force shall be dissolved.
(D) During its deliberations, the task force shall be staffed by such personnel as provided and assigned by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from the Senate staff and by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the House staff.
SECTION 3. This joint resolution takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Ratified the 23rd day of February, 2000.
Approved the 25th day of February, 2000.
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