Judge James E. Lockemy

2023 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fourth Circuit

James E. Lockemy has been selected to receive the prestigious 2023 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fourth Circuit. Having retired from his role as chief judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals in 2021 after 32 years on the bench, Lockemy now serves as an active retired judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals and is occasionally assigned to sit as an acting associate justice on the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Lockemy has been very active in the American Inns of Court movement. “I have not worked with a man as tireless as he, and he has spent countless hours laboring in the vineyard of the Inn of Court movement,” writes Edward W. Mullins Jr., who nominated Lockemy for the award along with Joseph F. Anderson Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Lockemy is a founding member of the Coastal Inn, Pee Dee Inn, and South Carolina Family Law Inn; he is currently organizing an Inn in the Rock Hill/Charlotte, South Carolina, area. He is also a member of the John Belton O’Neall Inn.

Lockemy has also had a distinguished career as a lawyer and judge. After graduation from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1974 and a stint with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he became minority counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He then returned to his hometown of Dillon, South Carolina, and formed the law firm Greene, Lockemy, and Bailey and worked as a general practitioner. At the same time, he was elected to four terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives, becoming the first Native American from Dillon County to serve in that role. In 1989, he became a circuit court judge at large, working on both civil and criminal cases. In 2009, he joined the South Carolina Court of Appeals, becoming the court’s first Native American chief judge in 2016.

Lockemy is also active in the South Carolina and American Bar Associations. He has served actively in the Judicial Division of the ABA and was Chair of the Appellate Judges Conference. In 2021, he was elected as a member of the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors and continues to serve in that role. He also serves on the South Carolina Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and was the Bar designee to serve in the ABA House of Delegates.

Although Lockemy left the Army in 1974, he remained in the military with the South Carolina National Guard, serving in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Kosovo. He retired from active United States Army service as a full colonel. He then joined the South Carolina Military Department, retiring there in 2017 as a major general.