Three masked gunmen rounded the corner as Matthew Richardson and a friend strolled along Columbia's riverfront at dusk. Before the two could react, the robbers were on them, stripping Richardson of his cash and car keys at gunpoint.
Richardson walked away uninjured from this harrowing incident in the mid-1990s, but it left its mark nonetheless. He got a concealed weapons permit, he said, and did whatever he could to help prosecutors put away the lead suspect, a man already on parole for armed robbery.
"It became an important part of who I am," said Richardson, a civil litigator and partner in a Greenville-based law firm.
A desire to make the streets safe for his three young kids and other children is a key factor in Richardson's bid to become South Carolina's next attorney general. The 37-year-old Democrat has never worked as a prosecutor, but he maintains his legal experience, business management skills and familiarity with the appellate court system make him the best qualified candidate.
Richardson, a grandson of the late S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Julius "Bubba" Ness, grew up in Barnwell. He said he spent long hours there as a child listening to his grandfather, father and uncle -- all attorneys -- discuss the importance of the law and its ability to improve people's lives. Serving as attorney general is a logical extension of his life's work and way to give back, Richardson said.
Richardson said he would work to unclog the state's court system and move cases to trial more quickly. "We have communities in our state that have several years lag time between an incident and trial," he said. "We've got to find a way to deliver swifter justice and get violent criminals off the streets."
Richardson also wants to focus on measures that protect children from sexual predators, safeguard the state's natural resources and shield seniors from fraud and abuse. He vowed to fight corruption and be a strong, independent advocate as attorney general.
FAMILY: Wife, Beth, and 3 children
OCCUPATION: Attorney; Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, P.A.
EDUCATION: Barnwell Public Schools; Duke University, B.A. in Economics; University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D.
PRIOR PUBLIC OFFICE: None
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.toughandfair.com
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.