15th Circuit solicitor gets new prosecutors from county, none fr - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

15th Circuit solicitor gets new prosecutors from county, none from state

A South Carolina prosecutor manages an average of 375 cases a year, compared to the national average of 94.  Each of Horry County's 15 prosecutors handle 560 cases a year. A South Carolina prosecutor manages an average of 375 cases a year, compared to the national average of 94. Each of Horry County's 15 prosecutors handle 560 cases a year.

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council granted the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office two more prosecutors in this year's budget, but a request to the state for seven more fell through.

"We're way, way, way under funded," Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said. "We have 15 doing what Richland County was doing with 38 and Charleston was doing with 34. But there are some counties that are even in way more desperate shape."

Each prosecutor in Horry County has a caseload of 560 cases per year. The state average is 375 cases, according to the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination.

However, 80% of the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office's cases are processed within 540 days. Richardson credits that to the office's ability to work efficiently despite taking on more than what other prosecutors in the state do.

"We're doing a really good job with that, but if we could even move toward having the cases resolved within a year, that's even better," he said.

Richardson said he is happy to know Horry County Council recognized the office's need for more help. Last week, council passed a 7.2 millage increase in its budget, which will fund public safety initiatives, including two new prosecutors.

The millage increase raises $13.5 million total. About $150,000 of that will go to the new solicitor's office positions, Richardson said.

Those prosecutors will even out the general session teams to three teams of four people. They'll be responsible for 400 cases a year.

"The thing that I've drilled into everybody's head is that they will be working very hard for that," Richardson said. "They're going to have a tremendous caseload coming into it."

The millage increase also pays for other additions such as gang unit officers for the Horry County Police Department. That will end up creating more cases for the solicitor's office, Richardson predicts. He said the overall caseload has increased in the county by thousands of cases in the past decade due to growth.

"There will be more be more arrests simply because there are more officers on the street, so we're going to get a lot more work in," he said.

Richardson said the two prosecutors will help speed up the judicial process for the area and ease the burden on the office's prosecutors, however, it will take state funding to bring the caseload down to the levels of other counties.

The South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination submitted a request to the state for $7 million of funding for prosecutors statewide. That would've been enough to add five prosecutors to Horry County and two prosecutors to Georgetown County.

"The Senate recognized the fact that we needed the prosecutors statewide and did a really valiant effort," he said. "The House seemed to have gotten tied up with apparently one House member."

Richardson said he's meeting with elected solicitors from around the state this week to discuss plans for the future to remedy the problem. He said he expects the same proposal to be submitted again next year. Richardson said he only plans to submit requests to the state for the near future.

"We won't ask for any more prosecutors from the county next year," he said. "I understand. I pay taxes too and I think we can do more with less. I think we've always done more with less."

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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