Joe Watson

Attorney at Law

Former Chief Prosecutor and Circuit Court Judge

Joe Watson is a former South Carolina Circuit Court Judge and Circuit Solicitor (District Attorney) for Greenville and Pickens Counties. In the decades as an attorney serving in different roles, Joe Watson has successfully prosecuted a Death Penalty case, successfully defended a Death Penalty Case, as well as presided as a judge in a Death Penalty case.

He is a lifelong resident of Greenville, South Carolina. He attended Greenville Public Schools, then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Furman University in 1975, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina in 1978. He was admitted to the SC bar that same year. Upon graduation, Watson worked as an Assistant Solicitor in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit under Billy Wilkins and Bill Traxler. In 1982, Joe decided to leave the Solicitor’s office and establish a private law practice.

On May 3, 1985, the Honorable Richard W. Riley, Governor of South Carolina, appointed Joe as Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor to fill the unexpired term of William B. Traxler, Jr. In 1986, 1990, and 1994, Watson was elected to serve four year terms as Solicitor of Pickens and Greenville counties.

In 1997, Joe was elected by South Carolina legislature to serve as Circuit Court Judge. During his five years on the bench he held court in every judicial circuit in the state of South Carolina. After his term, he decided to re-enter private practice in 2002, which continues to this day.

Joe has appeared on 60 Minutes, ESPN’s “Beyond the Glory,” and CNN as a commentator.

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Watson served on several boards, committees and professional organizations during his tenure as Solicitor including the Executive Board of the SC Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee, the South Carolina Solicitors’ Association (President 1994-95), the Rotary Club of Greenville, Advisory Board for the Salvation Army Boy’s Club, Advisory Committee for the Drug Free School and Communities program for the Greenville County school district. He was also appointed to the Advisory Board of the Greenville Technical College Alternative Educational Opportunity Program “Operation Success.” Watson was the Thirteenth Circuit’s delegate to the Criminal Law Council of the South Carolina Bar and in was appointed in March of 1991 to the Criminal Drafting Committee for the South Carolina Uniform Jury Charge Project. He is also an Ex Officio member of Crimestoppers.

Many committees on which Watson has served focus on ensuring justice for children and the underprivileged. Watson served on the South Carolina Bar’s Justice for All task force, the Advisory Committee for the South Carolina Educational Resource Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Children’s Justice Act Task Force, the Committee to Study Juvenile Crime Issues, and the South Carolina Victim Assistance Policy Committee, created by the SC General Assembly to advance policy for the State Office of Victim Assistance. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court to the SC Domestic Violence Task Force, and in 1995 was appointed to serve on the Juvenile Justice Panel for Senate District 7.

Joe is married to the Honorable Amy C. Sutherland. They have two children, Asher and Mary Elizabeth. They live in Greenville where they are members and frequent volunteers at Triune Mercy Center. They enjoy traveling and gardening.

  • South Carolina Bar, 1978

  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina 1979

  • United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1979

  • United States Supreme Court, 1984

  • University of South Carolina School of Law, 1978

    • Order of the Wig and Robe
  • Furman University, 1975, Cum Laude

    • Letterman, Swim Team
  • Wade Hampton College, 1980

    • Economics
Practice Areas
Bar Admissions
  • South Carolina Bar, 1978

  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina 1979

  • United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1979

  • United States Supreme Court, 1984

Education
  • University of South Carolina School of Law, 1978

    • Order of the Wig and Robe
  • Furman University, 1975, Cum Laude

    • Letterman, Swim Team
  • Wade Hampton College, 1980

    • Economics
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