January 22, 2009
AIKEN, S.C.--- There's a new top prosecutor in Aiken. He's been on the job for about a week now, replacing Barbara Morgan who just retired after 19 years.
The new solicitor has a famous name, but chances are, you haven't heard much from Strom Thurmond, Junior. He sat down with News 12's Richard Rogers. A News 12 crew was in this same office a week ago, surrounded by boxes and saying good-bye to Barbara Morgan.
A lot has changed.
"You just have to jump in", Thurmond said, "its going real well. My first official day was the middle of last week."
But with a name like his, Strom Thurmond, Jr. has always had big shoes to fill.
"My dad gave me a lot of lectures", he chuckled.
Now, with a portrait of his famous father watching over him, Strom talks freely about walking in his fathers footsteps.
Rogers- "What's it like having a famous name? I mean, it's on everything from federal buildings-- to a dam.
Thurmond- "Well- it's all I've ever known. People of course knew who I was and I always wanted my actions to reflect well on both my parents."
Any history book will tell you Strom Thurmond was the nations longest serving senator, with a front row seat to countless inaugurations.
But even "Ol' Strom" never saw one like our most recent one.
Rogers- "What do you think your father would have to say about this week in American history, Barrack Obama becoming president?
Thurmond- "I think he would be very pleased. I do. I do."
South Carolina may have the most famous prosecutor in the land because of his father. Even so, Strom Thurmond, Jr. has managed to keep a low profile. But that's about to change as he begins prosecuting crimes in three counties.
Thurmond says his father gave him lots advice about the family name.
"What you do, must not only be right, it must appear right." Thurmond continued, "and he used to say it can take a lifetime to develop a reputation and about 20 seconds to destroy one."
He may be well known, but at 36 years old, Strom Thurmond, Jr. has done very few on camera interviews.
Rogers- "How would you describe your relationship with the media? The reason I ask is, we haven't seen much of you over the years."
Thurmond- "Well, I hope my relationship with the media is good- I guess you'll tell me. I understand in this new position there is a public face to my job."
He comes to this office- after spending some time in private practice. Before that he was the United States Attorney for South Carolina.
"Holding the position of U.S. Attorney was a tremendous honor and an extraordinary opportunity, Thurmond said.
Strom Thurmond, Jr. has a lot to say about his new job which covers crimes in 3 counties; Aiken, Barnwell and Bamberg. The second judicial circuit.
"Maybe this job is a little more personal, a little closer to the people, if you will."
Now, he's walking the same halls where his own legal career began, and meeting some old friends along the way.
Thurmond said, "Many of the people who were working here when I started my career are still here. This is a great office and a great staff.
This time he's the boss.
Rogers- "What's your biggest challenge?"
Thurmond- "I think the biggest challenges is resources and caseload. I have five thousand warrants pending. 3,500 in Aiken, 1,000 in Barnwell and 500 in Bamberg." That adds up to about 600 warrants per attorney. Quite a caseload.
His dad, Strom Thurmond was a lawyer too and a judge after that. So this really is a case of following his fathers footsteps.
Rogers- "What do you think your dad would say- looking down on you in this office?
Thurmond- "Well, he was such a huge fan of law enforcement- I'm sure he would be delighted."
So how far is he willing to follow his famous father? When asked about the possibility of running for office one day, he didn't say no.
But he wants to make sure everyone understands he's happy doing exactly what he's doing.