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South Carolina Court of Appeals FAQ

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

There is one Court of Appeal in South Carolina. Nine judges sit on the court. They typically hear cases in sets of three judges, but on critical cases, all the judges may listen to a case together. Lawmakers elect these judges to serve a six-year term.

What types of cases do appellate court judges hear?

In South Carolina, the appellate court judges hear all cases where a person has appealed a lower court’s ruling, except for some very select categories. The most significant cases they do not hear is when someone is sent to death row because it is an automatic appeal to the state’s supreme court.

How long does it take the appeals court to decide?

There is no written rule on how long the judges have to decide criminal appeals. In most cases, they announce their decision within 45 days.

What happens after the court decides?

The judges will release their decision as a published or unpublished decision. The significant difference is that lawyers can use published findings when trying future cases, and judges can use them when ruling on cases. If someone thinks the appeal court judges made a mistake, they can ask for a rehearing in front of the same judges. If the judges decide not to hear the case again, the person can appeal to the supreme court.

Can a person file a writ of habeas corpus to have a federal judge hear a criminal case?

A person convicted of a crime can file a writ of habeas corpus to have a federal judge hear a case they have been convicted of in state court only after the appeals or supreme court has heard the case or refused to listen to it. The convicted person must claim that they were found guilty of established federal law or unreasonable interpretation of the facts.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals has nine judges that hear cases from lower courts, except death penalty cases. They are the second highest court in the state, but convicted criminals can file a writ of habeas corpus to have their cases possibly heard by a federal judge.