Judge John E. Waites (Retired)

2022 Bankruptcy Inn Alliance Distinguished Service Award

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–Recently retired Judge John Waites has been selected to receive the prestigious 2022 American Inns of Court Bankruptcy Inn Alliance Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes a judge or attorney specializing in bankruptcy law who has exhibited ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession, the rule of law, and personal ethics and integrity. Waites will receive the award at the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, which takes place October 18-22 in Orlando, Florida.

From 1994 until this year, Waites was a judge on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina. He served as chief bankruptcy judge from 2006 to 2013. The twelfth longest serving bankruptcy judge in the Fourth Circuit’s history, Waites presided over more than 100,000 bankruptcy cases and published more than 1000 opinions.

At Waites’s retirement ceremony, Associate Justice John Cannon Few of the Supreme Court of South Carolina presented him with the Order of the Palmetto on the governor’s behalf, an honor that represents the state’s highest civilian award. “It was an inspiring occasion to hear so many of the members of the bar and his colleagues speak of his career-long dedication to the legal system, professionalism, and public service….,” writes Few, who nominated Waites for the professionalism award. “In short, his career has been one of dedication to service, to those appearing in his court, the lawyers and other courts in the state, and the public in general.”

Waites founded the J. Bratton Davis Bankruptcy American Inn of Court in 2018 and served as its first counselor. He also served as president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges from 2018 to 2019 and is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. In 2006, he founded the South Carolina Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) financial literacy program and received CARE’s lifetime achievement award in 2019. From 2007 to 2020, he served as the only federal judge representative on the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission and chaired its strategic planning initiative.

Before becoming a judge, Waites was a partner representing both debtors and creditors in bankruptcy cases at Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs & Pollard, among other positions.

Waites earned an undergraduate degree from Davidson College in 1977 and a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1980.