For Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, few things are more important than the people of her beloved home state, South Carolina. That’s because her roots here are deep—She was born in Hemingway, earned her undergraduate degree from Clemson, and graduated from the USC School of Law in 1992. Since then, her entire professional career has been focused on one thing: The prosecution and imprisonment of South Carolina’s dangerous criminals.
“It didn’t take long working in prosecution before I fell in love with it and realized that prosecuting would be my career,” says Wilson. “I think much of my drive to make a difference comes from my parents, who instilled in me a belief in doing what’s right, and standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. We are a nation of laws, not vigilantes. Victims of crime need an advocate who shares their passion for ensuring justice is done.”
Since being appointed Ninth Circuit Solicitor by Governor Mark Sanford, Wilson’s schedule has been demanding. In addition to handling her own caseload, she has been analyzing office procedures, personnel, and budgeting. Her leadership and management style emphasizes innovation, teamwork, and communication.
“Innovation is the answer to clogged dockets. Everyone here is singularly focused on putting bad people behind bars, and to do that we are developing ways to share information faster and more efficiently. As the leader of the office, it’s my job to move the team forward—not only with the sheer number of cases we prosecute, but also with the effectiveness and efficiency of how we work. My re-structuring of the office so that prosecutions are agency based is a big 'first-step' towards effectiveness and efficiency."
Prior to her appointment as Solicitor, Wilson was chosen by the late Solicitor Ralph Hoisington to serve as his second-in-command: Chief Deputy Solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. In that role, Wilson managed and supervised more than 36 prosecutors and over 50 administrative personnel in Charleston and Berkeley Counties. Wilson assisted Solicitor Hoisington in making staffing decisions while prosecuting numerous cases involving murder, kidnapping, rape and other violent crimes, including death penalty cases.
Prior to that, Wilson prosecuted federal cases as an Assistant United States Attorney. As an AUSA, Wilson assisted in planning and coordinating investigations of federal law enforcement agencies, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and local law enforcement. She also organized and supervised grand jury investigations of crimes committed throughout the state. Wilson received the 1997 Department of Justice Director’s award for Superior Performance, the highest of awards for federal prosecutors.
Scarlett has remained a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) for each successive United States Attorney, including Strom Thurmond, Jr., and Reginald Lloyd. As a SAUSA, Solicitor Wilson is able to work on matters of joint interest to both state and federal authorities and is remains authorized to handle cases in federal court.
Wilson began her career in prosecution as an Assistant Solicitor for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. There she prosecuted a diverse caseload ranging from white collar to violent crimes.
Scarlett’s passion for law started as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Judge Don S. Rushing back in 1992. Her duties consisted of writing orders, performing research and assisting Judge Rushing in his duties as the Chief Administrative Judge for various judicial circuits.
Because of her background, Wilson has personal friends and colleagues in just about every county in South Carolina. That, she explains, is one of the reasons she takes her profession so seriously—and how she reminds herself that the Solicitor’s Office is about victims, not criminals.
“My concern is for the safety and security for the people of Charleston and Berkeley counties, not for the criminals,” she says. “If you commit a crime against one of our neighbors, you can bet that law enforcement will catch you, and my team will prosecute you!”