When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Stacey Haynes had an unusual answer for a child — a prosecutor. Though she knew no lawyers personally, she had her sights set on a career in the courtroom. Her father’s passion for making his community safer and helping others as a Pickens County law enforcement officer inspired her to make a difference in others’ lives. Now, Haynes is an assistant United States attorney.
“My mother and father instilled in me that I could be anything I chose to be and that education was the key,” she says.
Haynes graduated from Clemson with a degree in political science in 1986 and then attended the University of South Carolina School of Law. After graduation, she started her career as a law clerk for a state circuit court judge and then as an associate for a small firm in Columbia. But she quickly realized that’s not what her heart was telling her to do.
“I wanted to follow my dream instead, so I joined the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office as a state court prosecutor,” Haynes said.
Haynes has been a prosecutor since 1992 and has tried a multitude of cases, such as murder, kidnapping, rape, bank robbery and gang crimes. While with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she’s worked with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces and Violent Crime Task Force and has served as the Project Safe Neighborhoods coordinator and Anti-Terrorism/National Security prosecutor.
In 2020, Haynes became senior litigation counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. While still working on violent crime cases, she is also part of the senior management team. In her new role, she assists other attorneys with cases, helps train new attorneys and implements special projects.
Haynes says she’s reminded of why she chose her career every day by the people and communities she’s served:
“I keep the cards and notes that I’ve received from victims, and even defendants, along the way. I have a card that I received from a kidnapping/rape victim years after her case, which I did as a state prosecutor, in which she wrote, ‘I really do thank you for being there when I really needed you the most. When I am feeling down, I always think about you because you always told me everything will be all right. … You are one of my heroes because I really thought my life was over. Thank you again.’”
She once received a card from a defendant who was serving a lengthy federal sentence for his involvement in a violent, large-scale drug conspiracy. He wrote, “Happy holidays to you and yours. I may not be whole yet, but I’m sure on my way. For this, I can thank you.”
Haynes adds, “People understand that prosecutors can make a difference for a victim, but they rarely understand that we can also make a difference for a defendant and affect their life for the better.”