Tyre Lee Jr. of Chester has been named South Carolina’s Juvenile Public Defender of the Year.
Lee works for the 6th Circuit Public Defender Office, which handles cases for indigent clients in Chester, Lancaster, and Fairfield counties.
Lee started a juvenile representation division at that office in 2011. He represents the majority of children under age 16 charged with crimes in those three largely rural and poor counties.
Most juvenile criminal cases are heard in family court, not the adult criminal courts. Family courts are equity courts that typically include the Department of Juvenile Justice, prosecutors, and social service agencies.
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Mike Lifsey, 6th Circuit chief public defender, said Lee has helped change the representation of children in the circuit by making the system more accountable while providing zealous and effective service to the children charged with crimes.
“Today’s juvenile defendant could be tomorrow’s adult defendant – unless we all do what we can to try and help that child,” Lee said.
Lee, a Chester native, has represented the indigent for more than three decades, and was Chester County’s first public defender after serving in the Army in Vietnam.