A veteran prosecutor dedicated to public safety in her community has received a leadership award by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Fourteenth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Tameaka A. Legette received the John R. Justice Community Leadership Award on Sept. 23, 2019, at the annual Solicitor’s Conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“This award reflects Assistant Solicitor Legette’s dedication and commitment to making her community a safer place,” said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone. “Tameaka’s calling is her work as a prosecutor.”
The John R. Justice Community Leadership Award was established in 2012 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It is presented each year during the annual Solicitors Conference to recognize an assistant solicitor who has exhibited exemplary community service or implemented innovative solutions to advance public safety. The award is named for longtime Sixth Circuit Solicitor John R. Justice, who held office more than three decades and has the second-longest tenure of any South Carolina solicitor.
“I am humbled beyond words for the award and all the precious thoughts that were written and expressed about me during the nomination process,” Leggette said. “I am blessed, and I am thankful to God for the award, for my family, and for our Solicitor, who has allowed me to continue to do the work of the Lord.”
Legette has been a prosecutor for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office since 2002, the year she graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
In 2008, a year after she was promoted to administrating solicitor for Hampton and Allendale, she won the Solicitor’s Office award for the best-run General Sessions Court. In addition to one of the circuit’s highest conviction rates, Legette’s staff boasted the quickest time to court and the fewest number of people awaiting trial in the detention center – key performance indicators for the Solicitor’s Office. She also was instrumental in developing a domestic violence court in Hampton County before this was the norm throughout the state.
Shortly thereafter, Stone formed the Career Criminal Unit and asked Legette to prosecute the team’s cases in Colleton County. It was another two years, however, before he convinced her to switch roles and communities.
“Basically, he had to tell me that was just the way it was going to be, that I had to do it,” Legette recalls with a smile. “Looking back now, I’ve got to admit it, Solicitor Stone was right.”
Legette handles cases involving the most violent and habitual offenders in Colleton, Hampton and Allendale counties. She has earned convictions against 95 percent of the defendants she has prosecuted since joining the Career Criminal Unit.
Legette’s 64 victories are tied for the most since the team’s inception in late 2008. Among them are 17 gang members or gang associates prosecuted in 2017 and 2018 as part of a partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stamp out criminal enterprises in three Lowcountry counties.
“This type of partnership between our office and federal prosecutors is invaluable. There’s no question that the 14th Circuit is safer as a result of this collaboration,” Stone said. “Tameaka has been and continues to be an integral part.”
Legette is a member of Elizabeth Church in Colleton County. She was previously named Marshall of the Martin Luther King. Jr. parade in Hampton.