The South Carolina Bar Foundation has awarded a long-serving judge with one of the most prestigious statewide awards for members of the South Carolina Bar on Tuesday.
William Byars Jr. received the 2014 Durant Distinguished Public Service Award for his extensive work in legal issues involving children, families and communities throughout South Carolina. Byars began his legal career with the Savage, Royall, Sheheen and Byars law firm in Camden where he presided over cases of abuse, neglect, delinquency and divorce in Richland and Kershaw counties as a 5th Judicial Circuit Family Court Judge.
Byars then served as a director of the Children’s Law Office at the University of South Carolina for 10 years before he was appointed by then Gov. Mark Sanford to serve as the director of the SC Department of Juvenile Justice in 2003. The department experienced a significant reduction in juvenile crime, long-term secure population and recidivism with Byars at the helm. He then moved on to become the director of the SC Department of Corrections before retiring in January 2013.
Byars has received countless awards for his work in family court and juvenile justice as well as being involved with numerous legal groups throughout the state during his career. He also received an Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star for “meritorious achievement.”
The award will be presented to Byars during the S.C. Bar Convention on Jan. 23 in Columbia. The DuRant Award was established in 1980 to honor living members of the South Carolina Bar.