South Carolina

State/Local Funding

  • The South Carolina Judiciary is funded by the state and by local funding bodies. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts, for the salaries of trial court judges and support staff and for trial court technology.  Trial court clerical staff and local courthouses and equipment are paid by local funding bodies.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • South Carolina’s total state and federal grant appropriation was increased from $63.1 million in FY12 to $67.8 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $37.6 million to $43.5 million; the percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary remained at less than 0.7%.
  • The amounts in FY11/12 do not reflect a one-time allocation of $5 million for a special project (including that amount would have resulted in unrealistic skewing).
  • The FY12/13 budget includes special funding for nine new judges and staff.  It also includes start-up funding for an e-filing initiative.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay relatively the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch does not present the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch.  The budget is first submitted to the Executive Branch who will make their recommendations.  If any are made, the Judicial Branch then has the opportunity to present its unabridged budget request directly to the Legislature.
  • The Judicial Branch does not have budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items.  The Judiciary has authority to administer its budget within broad guidelines.  However, it does not simply receive “lump sum” funding.
  • The FY13 budget enables the courts to provide and enhance necessary technology to meet the demands of the public. 
  • The introduction of technologies has enabled the courts and others to provide and receive enhanced court services.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years, the number of judges, trial court staff and central office staff has remained the same.  Spending on trial court operating expenses has been increased by 2%.
  • In the coming year, the number of judges and trial court staff will increase by 8%.  The amount spent on trial court operating expenses will increase by 4%.
  • The increase in operating expenses has mostly restored funding for travel. 

Compensation:  Over the past four years, salaries of judges and court staff had been frozen.  Salaries did not increase for several years.  Judges and staff received a 3% increase in FY12/13.

Service Reductions: 

  • Over the past four years, the South Carolina courts have reduced hours of operation and have delayed filling vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  They have reduced the use of retired judges.
  • These service reductions have resulted in increased delays and backlogs.  South Carolina has remained a proactive Judicial system in spite of the bad economy and they have actually implemented programs to improve access to justice during this time period.

Efficiency Measures:  The South Carolina courts have implemented an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, electronic workflow, e-payment of fines and fees, a virtual self-help center and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records.  In the coming year, they will implement e-filing and e-citations by law enforcement agencies.

Business Processes:  The South Carolina courts have implemented and will continue to implement an enhanced caseflow management program.  They have created a statewide fine schedule for petty misdemeanors and have implemented remote videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants.  In the coming year, they plan to transition to digital recording of court proceedings.

Centralization:  The Judiciary has expanded centralized courts at the magistrate level, primarily in Criminal Domestic Violations, DUI and Traffic Courts.

The South Carolina courts are in a better position than in FY09 to provide access and timely justice, primarily due to improvements in technology.

Reports and Articles

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