Hon. Kristi Lea Harrington (Ret.), Programs


Judge Harrington received her undergraduate degree from Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, with a B.A. in English. She then obtained her law degree from the University of Tulsa, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During law school, Judge Harrington was employed by the District Attorneys Office in Tulsa where she began prosecuting juvenile and adult felony cases with a limited license to practice law. Upon graduation, she remained in the DA’s Office, where she implemented a Domestic Violence Court.

Upon returning to South Carolina, Judge Harrington became very active in the bar and her community. She was employed by the Ninth Circuit Solicitors Office, prosecuting crimes against women and children. She was selected to serve on the Children’s Justice Task Force and attended many trainings to hone her advocacy skills, including attending a training at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Alexandria, Virginia. She was on the faculty of the National Advocacy Center, a nationwide training center for prosecutors, where she taught practical trial techniques.

Judge Harrington became the youngest Circuit Court judge and one of only six female circuit judges in the state of South Carolina on February 6, 2008. She was unanimously elected by the state legislature. During her tenure on the bench, she tried to verdict over 250 jury trials and completed numerous non-jury criminal and civil matters. She was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Violence Against Women as the sole circuit judge, working to reduce the number of assaults and deaths of women in the state. She also served on the Common Pleas Docket Reform Committee and was part of the McArthur Foundation grant to reduce incarceration rates.

Judge Harrington places much importance on the mentoring aspects of the legal profession. She was a founding member of the Pettigru Inn of Court in Charleston, a local chapter of the American Inns of Court. The Inn is a program designed to mentor law students through monthly interaction with experienced trial attorneys. She also started “A Day in Court” program in her circuit to allow high school students to observe the courtroom process.

Judge Harrington has also taught locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. She is a frequent presenter for her local bar association on such topics as jury selection, trial techniques, and construction litigation. She has presented statewide on such topics as child sexual assault prevention and prosecution. Judge Harrington is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Charleston School of Law where she teaches a variety of classes, such as Advanced Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Trial Advocacy, and Alternatives to Incarceration. At Strayer University, she teaches undergraduate Legal 100 (Business Law) and U.S. Courts, as well as a Master’s level Business Law class.

In 2012, Judge Harrington was honored to be selected as Adjunct Faculty for the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, USA. She currently is teaching Selected Issues in Evidence to national and international judges and has designed a class specifically to train new judges as they transition to the bench. She has presented on topics such as child witnesses and special victim consideration. She is currently serving on the Faculty Council of the NJC after being elected to the position by her peer judges. After working towards her Master’s Degree in Judicial Studies, she received her Certificate in Judicial Development in General Jurisdiction Trial Skills.

In 2016, Judge Harrington travelled to India as a Fulbright Scholar Specialist to Symbiosis Law College. She lectured on a variety of topics including comparative criminal and constitutional law, moot skills, and legal research. Judge Harrington was honored to present to Indian judges at the Maharashtra Judicial Academy and to the District Judges in Pune. During her time in India, Judge Harrington lectured at five law schools. She was the guest speaker at an International Victims Rights Conference in Goa. In July 2018, Judge Harrington had the privilege of going to Pakistan as a Fulbright Scholar Specialist where she lectured at a local university and met with local judges and attorneys.

On June 30, 2018, Judge Harrington retired from the bench after serving two terms. She is a certified mediator and a certified arbitrator, owning her own Alternative Dispute Resolution practice. She is the Judicial and Legal Content Specialist at Darkness to Light, a non-profit organization that empowers and educates adults on how to identify and prevent child sexual abuse.