South Carolina Supreme Court Justices

David Walker Harwell
Date Born: January 8, 1932

 Date Died: TBD

Place Born: Florence County, SC

Place Buried: TBD


Chief Justice 1992 - 1994
Associate Justice 1980 - 1992

David Walker Harwell was born on January 8, 1932. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a law degree in 1958, where he distinguished himself as a member of the editorial board for the South Carolina Law Review. He was admitted to the SC bar in 1958.

From 1952 to 1954, David Walker Harwell served in the U.S. Navy.

From 1958 to 1973, David Walker Harwell practiced law with the Harwell & Harwell law firm.

In 1962, David Walker Harwell was elected one of four men to represent Florence County in the SC House of Representatives of the:
- 95th General Assembly that met from 1963 to 1964
- 96th General Assembly that met from 1965 to 1966
- 97th General Assembly that met from 1967 to 1968
- 98th General Assembly that met from 1969 to 1970
- 99th General Assembly that met from 1971 to 1972
- 100th General Assembly that met from 1972 to 1974

On May 2, 1973, David Walker Harwell was elected as a Judge of the 12th Judical Circuit, and he resigned from the House of Representatives on May 21, 1973. He served as a Resident Circuit Court Judge, serving Florence County and Marion County, until 1980.

As a Resident Circuit Court Judge, David Walker Harwell graduated from the National College of State Trial Judges at the University of Nevada in 1973 and the American Academy of Judicial Education at the University of Colorado in 1976.

In 1980, David Walker Harwell was elected as an Associate Justice on the SC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice William Luther Rhodes, who retired.

On January 1, 1992, David Walker Harwell became Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice George Tillman Gregory, Jr.,. who retired early. He served as Chief Justice until 1994, when he retired.

During his time on the bench, Justice Harwell approved the use of genetic testing in criminal cases, recognized battered women’s syndrome as a defense, and tried the first death penalty case after the death penalty was restored in 1976. Justice Harwell’s tenure on the bench has been described as accessible, innovative, and visionary with his push for mediation as a means of dispute resolution, his reform in the judicial discipline system, and his support of the courtroom live-camera rule.

David Walker Harwell is a former co-chair of the South Carolina Bar’s Dispute Resolution Section, a member of the American Bar Association’s Section on Dispute Resolution and has completed a number of mediation and arbitration training courses as well as many other ADR seminars and symposiums. Harwell has served as a mediator trainer for the U.S. Department of Justice at the National Advocacy Center. He is a certified mediator and arbitrator in state and federal courts in South Carolina.

From 1994 to 2010, David Walker Harwell served as Special Counsel to Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

In May of 2006, David Walker Harwell received the honorary degree Doctor of Public Service from Coastal Carolina University during the commencement ceremony.

Since 2010, David Walker Harwell serves as a Special Counsel to the Bell Legal Group in Georgetown, SC.

In January 2014, David Walker Harwell was presented with the C.C. “Cotton” Harness III Peace Award by the South Carolina Bar in recognition for his leadership in developing alternative dispute resolution in South Carolina. He has also received the Order of the Palmetto from Gov. David Beasley and the Reid Montgomery Freedom of Information Award from the South Carolina Press Association for opening South Carolina’s courtrooms to cameras.

Honorary Doctorate, Francis Marion University
Honorary Doctorate, Coastal Carolina University

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