James Lockemy Honored At U.S. Supreme Court

PEMBROKE, NC – UNC Pembroke Trustee James Lockemy is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fourth Circuit.

Lockemy, a UNCP alumnus, was recognized during a black-tie event at the United States Supreme Court recently. Having retired from his role as chief judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals in 2021 after 32 years on the bench, Lockemy serves as an active retired judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals and is occasionally assigned to sit as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
The award recognizes judges and lawyers who display integrity and legal professionalism in their lives and practices. Trustee Chairman Allen Jamerson and Kelvin Jacobs, the university’s general counsel accompanied Lockemy at the Celebration of Excellence ceremony.
“I was very honored to be selected for this award,” Lockemy. “I’m also honored to be nominated by Ed Mullins and U.S. District Court Judge Joe Anderson.
“Only a limited number of people in the federal Fourth Judicial Circuit has been selected to receive this award over the years,” Lockemy stated. “I’ve always approached my more than three decades as a lawyer and judge with a deep sense of obligation to professionalism and a commitment to integrity. To be recognized by peers humbles me and means a great deal to me.”
Lockemy has been heavily involved in the American Inns of Court movement. He 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, S.C. area. He is also a member of the John Belton O’Neall Inn.
The Dillon, S.C., native has had a distinguished career as a lawyer and judge and credits his UNCP education for laying the foundation for his lifelong success. He still vividly remembers the guest speaker at a campus assembly who inspired his career path.
“President English Jones came to talk with us and brought an alumnus who later became a judge in Alabama,” he said. “He was saying just because you come from a small college doesn’t mean you can’t go very far. I had not considered attending law school then, but he inspired me on that day during the assembly.”
After graduation from the University of South Carolina School of Law 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 returned to his hometown and formed the law firm Greene, Lockemy and Bailey. 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, working on 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 also dedicated 30 years of military service in the active army and National Guard, including a tour of duty in war-torn Kosovo, before retiring as a full colonel. He joined the SC Military Department, addressing state needs and natural disasters before retiring in 2017 as a major general.
Over the years, UNCP has recognized him with the Outstanding Alumni and Distinguished Service awards. He gave the commencement address in 2017.
Though he’s been lauded with numerous awards, he considers his appointment in 2022 to the Board of Trustees at his alma mater “one of the highest honors of my career.
“I was appointed to the board to work with the other trustees to advance what I consider a school that’s one of the best in the nation and, to me personally, has meant so much because it provided me the education I used as the foundation to go to law school and later get my master’s degree and now working on my Ph.D.”

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