Jimmy Richardson realized a dream Tuesday when he was sworn in as the solicitor for the 15th Judicial Circuit.
Previously the deputy solicitor, Richardson was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve the rest of the term formerly held by Greg Hembree who is now a state senator representing District 28.
Richardson said Tuesday, becoming solicitor has been his professional goal from the start.
“I guess from about the time I started mock trial in high school I caught the bug,” he said. “I wanted to be a prosecutor.”
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Richardson was Hembree’s choice too. In fact, he said he consulted with Haley and others on the decision, recommending his deputy.
“There’s absolutely no question that Jimmy was the best man for the job,” Hembree said. “I was so pleased when she made that judgment to choose Solicitor Richardson.”
Hembree said Richardson’s character is what makes him the right selection.
“His faith and his personal foundations are probably the most important aspect,” he said. “He’s a person of integrity and that’s where you’ve got to start in this job. If you don’t have integrity, I don’t care how slick a lawyer you are, you’re going to fail. You’re going to fail justice, you’re going to fail in this role.”
Richardson was born and raised in the upper Conway, lower Aynor area (referred to as UCLA to longtime locals) and said this is where he plans to stay with his wife Sheila, 9-year-old son Joshua and 5-month-old adoptive daughter Paizleigh.
He takes over at the halfway point in the four-year term. Tuesday he said he’ll be putting his name in the hat for the people to choose in 2014.
“I am going to be the solicitor for Horry and Georgetown counties for as long as the people will have me,” he said. “I have no other aspirations. I wouldn’t go to Columbia if they gave it to me. This is my home.”
There shouldn’t be major changes to the office, but he said minor tweaks are possible after he meets with each assistant solicitor in the next week.
“Every time we do that, we get great ideas,” he said. “We sit down for an hour with each one of them to figure out what would make the office run better, so there may be some changes that come around from that.”
Quick turn around for criminal cases – at six months – is still the goal for the judicial circuit. Richardson said that timetable is as quick as possible.
Personally, Richardson hopes to rid Horry and Georgetown counties of repeat offenders.
“I’m all for helping somebody if it’s their first time in trouble,” he said. “I’m not here to ruin peoples lives, especially when you catch them really at the low point in some of their lives. But, these people that are constantly getting locked up and just will not obey society, I would like to get those people moved either in prison or in some other county. But, not in Horry and Georgetown counties.”
Day-to-day changes also will be minimal for Richardson, thanks to preparation by Hembree. As solicitor, he’ll handle the administrative duties, including the office’s budget. He said he already delved into those responsibilities over the last few months in anticipation of the appointment.