After almost three decades of service, Richland’s court administrator retires

For 28 years, Jim Truitt made sure the wheels of justice ran smoothly in Richland County, guiding generations of citizens, lawyers and judges through the court system.

At 69, he’s retiring from the position of clerk of court administrator, and the legal community is making sure he gets a proper sendoff.

“Some people are just simply essential,” retired S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal said, describing Truitt as an “unflappable” problem solver who took the fear out of the system for many who came through the court.

An official proclamation, read by Columbia City Councilwoman Tina Herbert, declared March 15, 2023, as Jim Truitt Day in Columbia.

The proclamation commemorating more than three decades of service to Richland County was read before a crowd of approximately 100 people. Among them were Truitt’s wife, Leslie, his daughter, Sarah, court staff, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Clerk of Court Jeanette McBride as well as retired judges James Barber III and Casey Manning also offered words of congratulations and praise to Truitt.

Originally from Indiana, Truitt moved to South Carolina and spent seven years with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and five years as a bailiff in traffic court before he served for almost three decades as the administrator of the Richland County court.

He became part of the fabric of the Midlands legal community. Herbert recalled how both she and her daughter worked with Truitt, despite clerking at the courthouse two decades apart.

The proclamation celebrated Truitt’s “passion and dedication of the courtroom system... which touched so many lives.”

Many remembered Truitt’s kindness, humanity and his easy way with jurors, many of whom showed up nervous and uncertain on Monday mornings after receiving a summons for jury service.

“He made everybody feel at ease,” said 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson, who remembered how Truitt filled that role in Gipson’s own early days as an attorney.

In 1996, as a law clerk for Manning, newly out of law school, Gipson recalled how Truitt helped him bridge the chasm between the book knowledge of school and the day-to-day machinery of court operations, as he had for so many others.

“He was the go-to person for anything and everything you might need in this courthouse for decades,” said Fielding Pringle, the 5thCircuit public defender.

He will be replaced by Jackie Pendergrass, the current “Floor Manager,” who works with Truitt.

“Richland County was lucky to have him and he will be missed beyond measure,” Pringle said.