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The Supreme Court of South Carolina


The Supreme Court of South Carolina is considering adding a rule to the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure to govern closing arguments in non-capital criminal cases.  A draft of this proposed rule is attached to this notice.

Persons or entities desiring to submit written comments regarding this proposed rule may do so by filing an original and seven (7) copies of their written comments with the Supreme Court.  The written comments must be sent to the following address:

The Honorable Daniel E. Shearouse
Clerk of Court
Supreme Court of South Carolina
P.O. Box 11330
Columbia, South Carolina 29211

The Supreme Court must receive any written comments by Wednesday, July 1, 2015.  Additionally, the Court requests that an electronic version of the comments in Microsoft Word or WordPerfect be e-mailed to by that same date.

The Court will hold a public hearing regarding this matter on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Courtroom in Columbia, South Carolina.  Those desiring to be heard shall notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court no later than Tuesday, September 8, 2015. 

Columbia, South Carolina
April 29, 2015


Closing arguments in all non-capital cases shall proceed in the following order:

(a) the prosecution shall open the argument in full;

(b) the defense shall be permitted to reply; and

(c) the prosecution shall then be permitted to reply in rebuttal.

If the matter involves multiple defendants, the court shall determine their relative order in presentation of closing argument.


Rule 21 replaces the common law rule, which permitted a defendant to retain the final closing argument if the defendant presented no evidence during the trial, and is substantially similar to the Federal Rule.  The rule requires that the prosecution open in full and may make a rebuttal argument, which must be limited to a direct response to the defendant's closing argument.