Judge Thomas A. Russo was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1955. He is the son of the late Vincent C. Russo, Sr. and Rosa Lee Russo of Edgefield, S.C. He has four sisters, Sarah Wedeman of Johnston, S.C.(deceased), Sharon Stevens of Edgefield, S.C., Linda Shaw of Olympia, Washington and Patty Clarke of Aiken, S.C. and one brother, Vincent C. Russo, Jr. of Edgefield, S.C.
Judge Russo’s family moved to Edgefield, S.C. in 1960, where he grew up. He attended the public schools of Edgefield County and graduated from Strom Thurmond High School in 1973. He attended the University of South Carolina and graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. From there he took a job as a teacher/coach at West Florence High School, where he taught Physical Education and Health as well as coached football and soccer. After two years he then left Florence to return home to teach and coach at his alma mater, Strom Thurmond High School. There he taught 9 th grade English and Physical Education and was an Assistant football coach and Head tennis for the Rebels. After five years at Strom Thurmond High School he left there to take a job as a pharmaceutical representative with Bristol Laboratories, which brought him back to Florence, S.C. After two years with Bristol Labs, Judge Russo decided to pursue his dream of practicing law and entered the USC School of Law in August 1984. He finished his legal studies in two and a half years and received his Juris Doctorate degree in December of 1986.
Following graduation from law school he clerked in the Federal District Courts for the Honorable Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. Upon the completion of his clerkship he worked for the Willoughby Law Firm in Columbia, S.C. for a short time before moving back home to the Edgefield County area and taking a position with the law firm of Knox & Zacks in Augusta, Georgia. From there Judge Russo set out to expand his trial practice experience by becoming Deputy Solicitor in the 2 nd Judicial Circuit and later working with the Law Offices of Ronald A. Maxwell in Aiken, S.C. In October of 1995 he opened the Law Offices of Thomas A. Russo in Edgefield, S.C. where he had a general practice of law and served as the Public Defender for Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda Counties. In February of 1999 he accepted the position as Deputy Solicitor for the 12 th Judicial Circuit, bringing him back to Florence County for the 3 rd time. He remained in that position until his election to the Bench.
He was elected as South Carolina Circuit Court Judge, At-Large Seat No. 12, on May 25, 2005, to fill the unexpired term of the Honorable James E. Brogdon, Jr. He was sworn in on June 6, 2005 and has served continuously since.
Judge Russo is married to the former Cheryl Matthews of Florence, S.C. and they have three incredibly wonderful children: Payton Rose, Darby Erin and Thomas, Jr. They are members of Lamb’s Chapel Christian Center where Judge Russo is an active member of the Central American Mission Team and where he plays guitar (also bass and drums if needed) on the Lamb’s Chapel Worship Team.
His interests include football, tennis, backpacking, canoeing, guitar music and home improvement projects.