Profiles of Public Servants: Chief Deputy County Attorney Doubles as Marine Corps Reserve Judge Advocate

October 20, 2017

This is the first in a series of human interest stories highlighting Richland County employees.
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Serving His Country, Representing Richland County
Chief Deputy County Attorney Doubles as Marine Corps Reserve Judge Advocate

As a second-year law student at the University of South Carolina, little did Bradley Farrar know how his life would change after noticing a recruitment sign to join the military.

“I walked pass my mailbox one day on the way to class and saw a flier for the Marines,” said Farrar, Richland County’s Chief Deputy Attorney. “After my first year of law school I clerked for a large firm in Columbia and decided that probably wasn’t what I wanted to do after graduation. Then one day I walked into a shopping strip in Five Points where a crusty Master Sergeant – who looked like he did pushups in his sleep – asked if I wanted to be a Marine. The Corps is so small, and there is no shortage of patriotic young men in South Carolina, so the recruiter had long since met his quota. I didn’t think he cared if I joined or not.  It turned out he did, becoming one of many mentors who helped me.”

After completing Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, Farrar was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He returned to South Carolina’s capital city to graduate from law school, pass the bar exam and work as a clerk at the Richland County Attorney’s Office in 1999. After several years on active duty and time in private practice, Farrar returned to the County, which has supported his frequent reserve assignments ever since. “The office is great; I couldn’t do this without everyone’s help,” Farrar said. “Especially my wife and our three daughters – I can’t thank them enough. The support American service members get from friends, families and their employers makes all the difference.”

Today, Farrar is in-house general counsel for Richland County. Responsible for supervising several attorneys while coordinating with outside counsel across a variety of local government issues, Farrar continues to serve the United State as a Judge Advocate and International Law Attorney for the Marine Corps Reserve. His military assignments have taken him around the world, but he always returns to the County as a civilian. “I joined the military because I wanted to serve my country. But to this day, the military side of my life compliments what I do at the County. Both involve strategy and planning.”

Recently, Farrar led a team of judge advocates to Montenegro to help the military there establish a criminal justice system. “When Russia started moving westward again, it got the Baltic nations’ attention. The Montenegrins were interested in improving their legal services to the military, but what they really wanted to know was how to get into NATO,” he remembers.  “I didn’t have authority over anything, but they were ready to deal with anyone. I said through an interpreter, ‘we’re going to talk about that issue…but first, here’s how you conduct a court-martial. ’”

The son of college English and journalism professors, Farrar has also written two books, several screenplays and one stage play. He donated the proceeds from his book, “Silent Partner,” published in 2013, to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots and Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse ministry.  His latest book, “God and America: Lukewarm is Not a Strategy,” was published last year.

His connections to his law school alma mater run deep. The USC School of Journalism established a national award in honor of his parents (the Ronald T. and Gayla D. Farrar Award in Media & Civil Rights History) given biennially for the best journal article or chapter in an edited collection on the historical relationship between the media and civil rights. “My father was a young reporter in Arkansas in the 1950s who covered the Little Rock Nine (civil rights protest leading to public school desegregation). My mother grew up in Memphis and always had a sense of fundamental fairness. With their reverence for justice and human dignity, the award was a natural. The thoughtfulness and quality of the entries has been wonderful. It has been an honor to attend the ceremonies over the years.”

How long does he plan to stay in the Marines?  “It gets harder each year to keep up with the young Marines physically. But I hope to have a few more years left,” Farrar says. “I am looking forward to one day retiring from the service and coming home for good. They say a domicile is the place you return to when you’re away from it.  For me, that’s South Carolina.  This is a good place to be.”