Pro Bono Program
Join the Office of the Attorney General and the Criminal Justice Academy for a Free, one-day, training on Criminal Domestic Violence. Trainings are geared for Law Enforcement Officers, Judges, Attorneys and Victim Advocates. All trainings are approved for CLE, JCLE, CLEE, and Non-Social Work Hours.
2008 Training Schedule in Process
Law Enforcement, Judges and Prosecutors
South Carolina is continually recognized among the worst states in the nation for its rate of domestic violence. There were at least twenty-seven (27) women who died as a result of domestic violence in 2005. The Palmetto State was highlighted as the sixth worst state in the nation for the rate of men killing women in both 2003 and 2004; the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division recorded 35,124 victims of domestic violence in 2004. In an effort to drastically reduce the incidents of domestic violence, the Office of the Attorney General has implemented the unique and effective Pro Bono Program for Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) cases heard at the Summary Court (Municipal and Magistrates courts) level.
First and second offense CDV cases which occur prior to January 1, 2006, first offense CDV cases which occur after January 1, 2006 and cases that are not of a high and aggravated nature are heard at the Summary Court level. Traditionally, the vast majority of cases heard at this level were absent of any representative from the State acting as prosecutor. Instead, the arresting law enforcement officer would attempt to act as the victim’s attorney; and as was common, the offender had a private attorney present for his defense. Therefore, it is understandable that under these circumstances a large number of CDV cases were being dismissed or incorrectly decided in favor of the offender.
Recognizing the desperate need in this area, Attorney General McMaster created the Pro Bono program to provide prosecutors for Summary Court level CDV cases. Private attorneys may, under the program, be trained and certified through the Office of the Attorney General to become a Special Prosecutor for these cases. The Attorney General’s Office then assigns cases and maintains a database of information about each case. To date, the Pro Bono program and its fifty (50) active volunteer attorneys have tried over 1900 cases in the jurisdictions of Kershaw County, Lee County, Orangeburg County, Pickens County, York County, the City of Columbia, the Town of Elgin, the City of Orangeburg, the City of West Columbia, and the City of Winnsboro. The program is continually working to spread to new jurisdictions.
The Office of the Attorney General is proud to report over a 70% conviction rate with cases tried through the Pro Bono program.