South Carolina’s Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state. It was designed to hear most appeals from the Family Court and Circuit Courts. The Court of Appeals has nine judges, one of them acts as Chief Judge, and the rest are Associate Judges. This court was established in 1983. All the judges are elected by the General Assembly. Each serves a six-year, staggered term. Most often, they sit in panels of three to hear cases and review oral arguments and briefs. Occasionally they sit as a whole unit, and all judges review the case together. They sit to listen to cases in all the counties throughout the state.
There are seven classes of a case where the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction, and those cases will bypass the Court of Appeals and go directly to the highest court in the state. The types of issues that go directly to the Supreme Court are:
1) The Death Penalty.
2) Public Utility Rates.
3) Significant Constitutional Issues.
4) Public Bond Issues.
5) Election Laws.
6) An Order Limiting the Investigation by a State Grand Jury.
7) An Order of a Family Court Relating to an Abortion of a Minor.
The Court of Appeals Clerk’s Office supports the court, patrons and the judges as well as litigants and the media. They assist with paperwork, scheduling court calendars, filing and disseminating information to all parties involved. They are also the “keepers of the records” and makes files available for review or copying. The Court Clerk’s office serves the public by making documents available to them upon request.
Final opinions determined by the judges of the Court of Appeals are posted openly on the South Carolina Judicial Branch website for review along with oral argument calendars so the public may attend.