Pro Bono Program
- How does the Pro Bono Program operate?
- Pro Bono Program Areas
- Attorney Pro Bono Interest Registration
- Rule 407: Conflict of Interest
- Rule 608: Pro Bono Credit
- S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Program
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 thirty-four (34) women who died as a result of domestic violence in 2010. The Palmetto State was highlighted as the seventh worst state in the nation for the rate of men killing women in 2009. 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 magistrate courts) level.
First and second offense CDV cases that occur prior to January 1, 2006; first offense CDV cases that 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. 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 Henry McMaster created the Pro Bono Program in 2004 to provide prosecutors for summary court level CDV cases. Private attorneys may 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 50 active volunteer attorneys have tried around 500 cases in the jurisdictions of Kershaw County, Lee County, Sumter County, 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.