Hubbard sworn in as first NEW 11th Circuit Solicitor in 40 years

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – On Wednesday afternoon, Samuel Richardson “Rick” Hubbard, III, was sworn in as the first NEW person to lead the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Solicitor’s Office in 40 years. The ceremony was the end of a phenomenal era in Lexington County politics, but more importantly it was a new beginning for the people of a region steeped in history.

Hubbard was flanked by his wife as he placed his left hand on a bible, raised his right, and swore to protect and defend the constitution of our state and nation. He did so in the front of the historic main courtroom in the old Lexington County Courthouse that was packed with some of the most influential people and legal minds of the last century in our state.

Once the formal oath was taken, Hubbard spoke. In his remarks, he recognized the many people in the room who shaped him into the man, the leader that he is today. He thanked his wife Ann for being by his side through the arduous election process. He also recognized his legal mentors, the brilliant legal minds that were present in the room during the ceremony; the men who helped to train, teach, and shape him into the person he has become during his already astounding career.

The Honorable William P. Keesley, also of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, administered the oath of office. For Judge Keesley, that act was a culmination of his part of the act of forming Rick Hubbard into our circuits new top prosecutor. He, along with many others of the smartest, most influential legal minds of our times, played a part in bringing us the man that was elevated to the position of chief prosecutor of our area of the state.

Judge Julius Baggett, an absolute icon in the legal communities of SC, was seated up front yesterday afternoon in a place normally reserved for one of the legal teams during trial. Now stooped and slowed by age, Judge Baggett still proved to be mentally alert and sharp of mind when so many stopped to offer a greeting and well wishes.

Hubbard started his career as a clerk for Judge Hubert Long in one of his first jobs after finishing law school. He worked as Long’s law clerk in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in the earliest years of his career.

When Judge Long retired, Hubbard moved on to clerk for the Honorable William P. Keesley, also a judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Eventually, Judge Keesley recognized that there was far more in Hubbard’s future than clerking for others and he, in an act Hubbard often described as, “kicking me out the nest,” suggested that Hubbard move on to bigger and better things.

In Hubbard’s bio from his webpage, it details his already extraordinary career.

In 1994, Hubbard became an assistant solicitor in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s office under the famed prosecutor and legendary Solicitor Donnie Myers. Just three weeks after joining that office, he tried and won a conviction in a DUI case. From that point on, Hubbard says, “I was hooked.”

Mere months later, Hubbard tried his first murder case with Deputy Solicitor Knox McMahon, who is now a judge himself. It was McMahon who presided over the session of court yesterday when Hubbard was sworn in.

Eventually, Hubbard prosecuted many cases in all four counties of the Eleventh Circuit. It includes Lexington, Saluda, McCormick, and Edgefield. He quickly rose through the office where he earned the respect of his colleagues and reputation as a tough, compassionate, and fair prosecutor. In 1997, Hubbard was named a senior assistant solicitor in the office.

In 2002, Hubbard was named Deputy Solicitor under Myers. He prosecuted some of the most complex crimes, including death penalty cases. He also assisted and advised the assistant solicitors in the prosecution of their own cases.

Still later in his tenure Hubbard was responsible for supervising all the attorneys and support staff in the Lexington office of the circuit. He was tasked with assigning cases and advised and mentored all of the office’s prosecutors. He also prepared and presented the office’s budget and personnel department and did the hiring and firing of the office’s employees.

Hubbard says that one of his proudest accomplishments was reducing the extensive backlog of criminal cases. When Hubbard undertook that task, the docket had approximately 11,000 backlogged cases. Through hard work and with the cooperation of his staff and the area’s law enforcement agencies, that was eventually reduced to around 3,000 cases. This work, along with the creation of the Violent Crime Task Force, has helped reduce jail overcrowding while still keeping the most violent and dangerous offenders off our streets.

In 2007, Hubbard was awarded the Ernest F. Hollings Award for Excellence in State Prosecution. This is the state’s highest award for a prosecutor in state courts.

In 2015, South Carolina’s Attorney General Alan Wilson asked Hubbard to become a deputy attorney general in the Criminal Division of Wilson’s office. He set about reorganizing the criminal division to make it more effective and efficient.

Eventually, Wilson asked Hubbard to transition into the position of Chief Deputy Attorney General. The chief deputy is responsible for managing the entire staff of 230 people of the SC Attorney General’s Office.

Now back in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Hubbard replaces former Solicitor Donnie Myers, a legendary legal mind and prosecutor. Myers has arguably prosecuted more death penalty cases than any other government prosecutor in the nation. Myers retired at the end of 2016 after more than 40 years of service to the people of the state.

Hubbard speaks of Myers with affection and says regularly that Myers also played a huge role in molding him and making him into the leader he is and most believe he will continue to be in the coming decades. It is clear when you hear Hubbard speak of his professional career, he knows where he came from and how he got where he is today. He also knows that he owes much of his knowledge and skills to those great men who took the time to pass on their own knowledge, ethics, and their spirit of duty and fairness.

During yesterday’s ceremony and session, many spoke of how Hubbard was the right man for the job he is now undertaking. They spoke of his high moral character, ethics, education, and experience. No one, however, said it better than Judge McMahon who said many of the people who were in the room had the power to take someone’s freedom. Those same people also had the power to legally take someone’s life with the blessing and approval of the state when the most notorious and terrible crimes are committed. They also had the great power and opportunity to give something precious; they had the power to give a second chance when the circumstances allowed. Judge McMahon affirmed at the end of his speech that he is convinced that Hubbard is a man that is worthy of our trust with this immense power.

Hubbard is the man who is now in charge of seeing that justice is done in our county and area. It was clear after the ceremony yesterday that this is not something that he takes lightly.

Yesterday, the history of Lexington County, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and our state’s legal system was on full display. Today, tomorrow, and in days to come, Rick Hubbard will be at the helm of our solicitor’s office as a new history begins. It will be up to Hubbard to help mentor and raise a new generation of legal genius so that one day, he might too pass the torch to the one that will eventually be his successor.

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