Judge in Alex Murdaugh Trial Rose To Prominence After Attending Segregated Schools

Judge in Alex Murdaugh Trial Rose To Prominence After Attending Segregated Schools

The nation’s attention was captured by the six-week trial of Alex Murdaugh, the prominent and wealthy South Carolina attorney who was convicted Friday of the double murder of his wife and son and sentenced to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.

A fascinating sidebar to the splashy trial, and one that tells the South’s troubled history, is the judge who handed down that sentence is a Black man who attended racially segregated schools in the 1950s and 1960s

Judge Clifton Newman is a South Carolina native who was born in 1951 in rural Williamsburg County. He was the first member of his family to have been born in a hospital. His schooling took place in racially segregated schools.

When he did graduate from high school, he did so as the class valedictorian in 1969, a year before his local school district desegregated. While attending high school, he acted in a play as an attorney. The role he played helped him make the decision to pursue a career in law.

“To come from a rural community, a farming community, and to go from that scenario to playing the role of a lawyer was quite inspiring,” Newman told the American Bar Association back in 2017.

Newman earned his undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University and went on to graduate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He started practicing law in Cleveland before he retuned to South Carolina in 1982 and started a private law practice.

Newman also served as a defense attorney, a civil practitioner, and a prosecutor before he became a circuit court judge back in 2000.

Essence reported that Newman, a member of the Ohio and South Carolina Bar Associations, is on the Executive Board of The I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Change and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.