A Lifelong Advocate for Justice. Board Spotlight: Kristi Harrington

Judge Kristi Harrington retired from the South Carolina Circuit Court bench after serving two terms. She is a certified South Carolina Supreme Court mediator and arbitrator, owning her own Alternative Dispute Resolution practice, Kristi Harrington Dispute Resolution. She is honored to be on the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) Judicial Panel. She is currently a member of Arbitral Women, the SC Bar’s ADR Section, the SC Bar’s International Law Committee, and AtLas. She volunteers with the Charleston Mediation Center, mediating a variety of civil disputes. She recently joined the MBBI Board of Directors to share her insights on a larger scale.

Time as a Judge

“I became the youngest Circuit Court judge and one of only six female circuit judges in the state of South Carolina on February 6, 2008, when I was unanimously elected by the state legislature. During my tenure on the bench, I 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 has served as 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, notably teaching judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement on how to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse. In that role, “I trained Bermuda’s judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement on best practices for handling child sexual abuse cases.” Kristi was awarded the 2021 “Champion of Justice” by Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services for her commitment to pro bono legal services and access to justice.

Shifting to Mediation

Researching and reading the law is just as significant to a court case as it is to a mediation. It is crucial as a mediator to be well-informed on the details of the case. Judge Harrington recalls that the amount of reading and preparatory work she undertakes before a mediation equals the amount of reading and preparatory work she undertook as a judge. “Mediation is a lot about assessing risk and what motivates someone to resolve the case.”

Judge Harrington comments on the reason for her switch from the court room to the mediation space: “Mediation is also so rewarding as there is so much involvement that the affected party can take back some control from the situation. As a judge I had an immense breadth of experiences from the multitudes of the types of cases I presided over, but now as a mediator, I can really focus on the depth of the specific details.”

International Work

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, “I lectured at five law school and was the guest speaker at an International Victims Rights Conference in Goa, India.  In July 2018, I had the privilege of going to Pakistan as a Fulbright Scholar Specialist where I lectured at a local university and hosting interactive learning sessions with local judges and attorneys.”

Article by Francini Umanzor, MBBI Writer