Courts in South Carolina operate in multi-county circuits. Most circuits serve two or three counties. The Fourteenth Circuit is the only to have five: Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Allendale. This stems from the fact that several counties were carved out of the old Beaufort District.
Hampton County split off from Beaufort in 1877. Jasper County left Beaufort in 1912. Finally, Allendale was cut out of Hampton and Barnwell Counties in 1919. Colleton was one of the colony’s original three counties in 1683. It was absorbed by Charleston in 1769 and then became its own entity again in 1798.
In 1916, the area now served by the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit was removed from the Charleston court system and for 87 years it was run by the same family out of Hampton County.
As soon as the position of Solicitor became an elected one in 1920, Hampton attorney Randolph Murdaugh, Sr. was chosen for the job. He was killed in a train wreck in 1940 and was succeeded by his son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh, who held the position until his retirement in 1986. Buster’s son, Randolph Murdaugh, III, was elected and served for almost 20 years until he decided to go into private practice in 2005.
In 2006, Governor Mark Sanford selected an assistant solicitor in the office, Duffie Stone, to serve as Solicitor, making him the first man without the surname Murdaugh to hold the job. He was elected to serve his first full term in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012, 2016 and 2020.