Court hearings at the Aiken County Judicial Center have taken a new form as the spread of the coronavirus continues. 

On the morning of March 25, Judge Clifton Newman led hearings in a nearly empty courtroom. 

Since March 17, the court has utilized video conferencing to hold court with a limited number of people in the courtroom. 

Using Zoom, a video conference platform, attorneys and the courtroom judge are able to continue court matters while practicing social distancing. 

"All of us are in an unprecedented situation that is changing daily," said Second Circuit Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. "However, a functioning judiciary system is a cornerstone of our democracy, and we are trying to strike a balance between holding limited court hearings and the health and safety of court personnel. We are soldiering on the best we can."

As the number of coronavirus cases has increased in the state, the Supreme Court of South Carolina has directed courts to take several actions including postponing all jury trials. 

Non-jury trials and other hearings may continue at the trial judge’s discretion, but only attorneys, their clients and necessary witnesses will be allowed to appear.

Family courts are also restricting proceedings to emergency matters.

All roll calls and any other large gatherings are canceled until further notice. 

The Aiken County Judicial Center is still accepting circuit court, family court and probate filings and payments in boxes in the courthouse foyer. 

Matthew Enfinger is the crime and courts reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger