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Hon. Clifton B. Newman

Hon. Clifton B. Newman (Active/Retired)

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action & Mass Tort
Governmental & Public Agency
Health Care
Personal Injury
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Clifton Newman (Active/ Retired) joins JAMS after serving over 23 years as a judge on the South Carolina Circuit Court. Judge Newman presided over the South Carolina State Grand Jury and numerous high-profile civil and criminal cases, including, most recently, The State v. Richard Alexander Murdaugh. He is best known for his calm demeanor and thoughtful decision-making. A business court judge for over a decade, Judge Newman has immense experience presiding over complex litigation.

Over his years as a solicitor and during his judicial career, Judge Newman presided over myriad case types, including professional negligence, business torts, construction defect, governmental liability, insurance coverage, wrongful death and class actions. A former president of the American College of Business Court Judges, he is adept at handling the issues and complexities of commercial litigation. Additionally, he oversaw cases involving police shootings, false arrests and other governmental liability matters. With over two decades of judicial experience, Judge Newman employs the same even-tempered and balanced approach in all cases.

Judge Newman received his undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University. He obtained his juris doctor from Cleveland State University School of Law, where he gained early judicial experience serving as chief justice of the University Judiciary, the student court. He formed a successful private practice in Cleveland, Ohio, and ultimately settled in both Columbia and Kingstree, South Carolina where he continued successfully practicing law. He served as an assistant solicitor for Williamsburg County for over 16 years and spent 24 years in private practice prior to being unanimously elected to the South Carolina Circuit Court in 2000. He was unanimously reelected thereafter until his recent retirement to active/retired status.

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Presided over business court case alleging multiple breaches of contract, negligent misrepresentation and breach of warranty involving large-scale renovation, redesign and new construction of performance hall and municipal office space; complex lawsuit against consultants, architects, project manager, engineers, and other parties; managed litigation until settlement through mediation. The case involved pre-suit mediation
      • Presided over action by national rental company alleging violation of Unfair Trade Practices Act and seeking an injunction to preserve and protect proprietary and trade secret information, pending the resolution of nearly identical lawsuits in consolidated federal multidistrict litigation; multidistrict discovery order involved
      • Presided over mechanic’s lien foreclosure and breach of contract action filed by joint-venture party to construction of a new tire manufacturing facility for a company with similar plants worldwide; managed litigation to mediated settlement
      • Served as an acting justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court on a case finding a large national bank provided faulty investment advice resulting in millions of dollars of losses
      • Presided over bench trial involving derivative complaint alleging unlawful distribution of corporate funds of closely held corporation, with case seeking declaratory judgment resulting in order of disassociation
      • Presided over lawsuit by bank against former officers and successor employer alleging breach of nonsolicitation agreement, violation of Unfair Trade Practices Act and misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information; case was managed through litigation to a mediated settlement
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • Presided over class action litigation, including shareholder derivative action attempting to block bank merger
      • Presided over class action construction defect by property owners’ association against seller, developer and building contractor; managed the case through the litigation process through jury verdict in which class was awarded actual and punitive damages
      • Presided over construction defect case against builder and developer having granted class certification of single-family residences
      • Presided over class action litigation initiated by dozens of homeowners affected by 100-year flood
  • Construction
      • Presided over dozens of multiparty construction defect and insurance coverage cases related to commercial, residential and governmental construction projects; conducted trials to verdict in addition to managing cases during mediation process
  • Cryptocurrency
      • Presided over lawsuit involving the sale of corporate assets alleging breach of fiduciary duties, good faith and fair dealings, expulsion and corporate dissolution
  • Governmental & Public Agency
      • Presided over numerous lawsuits alleging wrongful death, false arrest, malicious prosecution and gross negligence related to criminal and civil matters involving local governmental agencies
  • Health Care
      • Presided over litigation against medical practice and multiple health care parties alleging breach of partnership agreement, gender discrimination/sex discrimination and violation of Equal Pay Act
  • Insurance
      • Presided over action by court-appointed liquidator of insolvent insurance company against directors and officers for breach of fiduciary duty, misconduct and gross negligence

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships and Affiliations

  • South Carolina Bar Association
  • Ohio Bar Association
  • Business Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Member, Mentoring Team, John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court, 2015–2024
  • Chairperson, South Carolina Civil Rules Committee
  • South Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on the Profession, 2008–2023
  • Permanent Member Status, Judicial Conference of the Fourth Circuit, 2023
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, 1972–2024
  • Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, 2023
  • President, The American College of Business Court Judges, 2018–2020
  • Co-Chair, Judge’s Initiative Committee, Business Law Section, American Bar Association, 2019–2020
  • Advisory Board, Nelson Mullins Center on Professionalism, 2021–2024
  • Faculty Member, Managing Complex Litigation, The National Judicial College, 2016
  • Business Court Representative and Judicial Officer, Business Law Section, American Bar Association 

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Order of the Palmetto, The State of South Carolina, Office of the Governor, 2023
  • Honorary Diplomate, The American Board of Trial Advocates, 2023
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws, South Carolina State University, 2023
  • Hall of Fame Inductee, Cleveland State University College of Law, 2023
  • Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr., Trailblazer Award, South Carolina Black Lawyers Association, 2023
  • Clifton B. Newman Champion of Justice Award, Benedict College, 2023
  • African American History Calendar Honoree, South Carolina State Board of Education, 2023
  • Rhodes McDonald Award, John Belton O’Neall American Inn of Court, 2023
  • Columbia Metropolitan Magazine Article, December 2023
  • Pioneer for Justice for All Award, Williamsburg County Branch, NAACP, 2023
  • William Henry Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award, Williamsburg HomeTown Chamber, 2023
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, 2022
  • Portrait Honoree, South Carolina Association for Justice, 2021 (portrait hangs in the Williamsburg County Courthouse)
  • Weekly Hall of Fame, South Carolina Lawyers, 2018
  • Matthew J. Perry Civility Award, Richland County, South Carolina Bar Association, 2018
  • North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Award, 2018
  • Jurist of the Year, South Carolina Chapter, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), 2014
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Business Courts, American Bar Association (ABA), 2013
  • Honorary Doctor of Public Service, Coastal Carolina University, 2024 

Select Articles and Presentations

  • Themis; High-Profile Trials; Key Biscayne, Florida; 2024
  • Better State of Health Summit, South Carolina Hospital Association, 2023
  • Employment Discrimination Panel, North Carolina/South Carolina Labor Employment Conference, 2023
  • Class Action Litigation With Single-Family Residences; Hilton Head, South Carolina; 2023
  • “Turning the Page After Murdaugh,” Harris Martin’s The Art of Litigation Conference
  • Keynote Address, 200th Year Celebration, Williamsburg County Courthouse, 2023
  • Michigan State Judges Conference; Mackinac Island, Michigan; 2023
  • House of Delegates Civility Presentation; South Carolina Bar Association; Greenville, South Carolina; 2023
  • Living Justice, Leadership Podcast, Cleveland State College of Law, 2023
  • Contributing Author, “Case Management in the Business Court,” The Business Courts Bench Book: Procedures and Best Practices in Business and Commercial Cases, 2019
  • Complex Commercial Litigation; San Antonio, Texas; 2016

Background and Education

  • Judge, South Carolina Circuit Court, 2000–2023
  • Adjunct Professor, University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law, 2022–2024
  • Assistant Solicitor, 3rd Judicial Circuit, 1983–2000
  • Managing Partner; Newman & Sabb, P.A.; 1994–2000
  • Law Office of Clifton Newman, 1982–1994
  • Partner, Belcher & Newman, 1977–1982
  • J.D., Cleveland State University School of Law, 1976
  • B.A., Cleveland State University, 1973


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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