2013 Leadership in Law

Jon E. Ozmint focuses on governmental and regulatory affairs, and crisis management at the federal, state and local levels. Prior to that he was the director of the S.C. Department of Corrections, deputy attorney general and chief prosecutor of the State Grand Jury, and general counsel for the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

As head of the SCDC, Ozmint spent eight years managing nearly 6000 employees and concluded his service as the fifth longest-serving prison director in the county. In 2011, Ozmint received the state’s highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto. He is also a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Why did you become a lawyer?
When I was in high school, I was working down at the courthouse and I watched the solicitor, George Duckworth, try a death penalty case. The courthouse was packed for the trial, so I went in and watched, and I really took an interest in prosecution. I guess it just kind of took hold and held on, something that seemed like a good thing to do. It seemed like a fun and challenging way to make a living, and I thought that I would enjoy that.

What was your most memorable case? 
I think the most difficult trial I ever had was one time in Greenville, I tried 12 or 13 defendants at one time in a drug conspiracy case, a cocaine trafficking ring that extended all the way from Mexico up to South Carolina and beyond. That was uniquely challenging because I had so many defendants all at once.

What book do you recommend to friends? 
I guess my favorite novel would probably be “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara, a Civil War novel about Gettysburg.

What’s one thing about the legal system that needs to be changed? 
I think right now we’re turning out too many lawyers, and I think we have been for years. I think we should do a better job with governing our law schools. Unfortunately, there’s a profit motive for law school for turning our lawyers.

Hardly anyone knows…
Probably my favorite thing to do is hunt wild hogs. Very few people know that.

What do you tell young people who are considering a career in law? 
I’ve talked to a few, and if they’re considering a career in the law, I tell them right now the law is pretty crowded field. If they’re considering going to law school, I think that’s a different matter. I think they should keep an open mind about what they can do with a law degree.