Court is In Session

April 2019
Written By: 
Sara Sobota

South Carolina Supreme Court to hear cases at CCU

“All rise….”

These are words many citizens hear only on television or at the movies. For those who generally find themselves on the proper side of the law, the inside of a real courtroom is unfamiliar, and perhaps even mysterious, territory.

The S.C. Supreme Court is about to change that as it holds session in Wheelwright Auditorium at Coastal Carolina University April 17 & 18.

Jacqueline Kurlowski, director of CCU’s Edgar Dyer Institute for Leadership and Public Policy and organizer of the event, said the justices have a recent interest in educating the public about the workings of the state’s highest judicial body.

“This spring they’re having a push to be more visible, to be more accessible,” said Kurlowski, “to kind of let people in behind the curtain, so they can experience what goes on in this branch of government.” This is the first year that court has been held outside Columbia since 2010.

The event will bring three authentic cases per day to the Wheelwright stage so citizens can view the judicial system at work. The “courtroom” will be closed while the court is in session, and the public can move in and out of the auditorium between cases. Full security will be in place, and CCU’s Marc McIntyre, director of University Event and Production Services, has crafted a customized bench to seat the justices.

The courtroom is always open to the public, but few citizens have the time to drive to Columbia out of sheer curiosity about the court’s procedures. Kurlowski noted that the public is more likely to observe or even interact with officials in other branches of government, such as the governor (executive branch) or members of state congress (legislative branch).

“The whole judicial side is something the people don’t really get to engage with, especially attending a lawsuit or a court case and hearing oral arguments,” said Kurlowski.

Members of the public may read summaries ahead of time to learn the nature of each case. The justices do not rule immediately, but verdicts, along with justices’ opinions, will be available on the S.C. Supreme Court website, typically within 30 days of the hearing.

Justice Kaye Hearn, appointed to the bench in 2009 and the first S.C. Supreme Court justice from Horry County, is pleased that the court is taking its show on the road.

“It’s good for the public to understand and appreciate what we do,” said Justice Hearn. It’s a historical event, an opportunity for them to see the five members of the Supreme Court in action, and I hope people will come and observe.”

To view cases and find verdicts, head to

If you go:

Wednesday, April 17 & Thursday, April 18
9:30 a.m.–noon
Admission: Free and open to the public
Allow ample time for parking and security checkpoints