The Student Voice of Coastal Carolina University



Former judge to deliver commencement speech

“Have confidence and be prepared to meet the moment,” is what Clifton Newman said during a Zoom interview as advice to graduates.

The former judge of the South Carolina Circuit Court is set to deliver the commencement speech at Coastal Carolina University’s graduation ceremony on May 2. 


Newman is from Williamsburg County, South Carolina. He received his undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University. During his college years, he was president of the student government and chief justice of the university judiciary. 


Upon graduation, he attended law school at Cleveland State University College of Law, formerly known as Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. After receiving his law degree, Newman was a lawyer in Ohio. Then, at 33 years old, he came back to South Carolina and has stuck around ever since.  


He served as a South Carolina Circuit Court judge for 23 years and retired in December 2023. He handled a wide variety of cases dealing with complex civil cases, such as the Alex Murdaugh trial and high-profile criminal cases, with some cases involving the death penalty.  


As a South Carolina Circuit Court Judge, Newman had a part in issuing the death penalty for Mikal Mahdi, who was convicted of killing a police officer and burning his body. Newman also helped to issue a life sentence for Nathaniel Rowland, who was convicted in the murder of Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student who mistook Rowland’s car for an Uber. 


“I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to be a judge and make some of the most important decisions in the state involving the criminal justice system,” Newman said. 


Newman and his wife, Patricia, have four children. His son, Brian DeQuincey Newman, passed away in January 2023 and was a lawyer. His daughter, Jocelyn T. Newman, is running for the Supreme Court and currently serves as a Circuit Court Judge based in Richland County, South Carolina. 


His other two children are daughter Kellee, who is an engineer, and son Corwyn, who has a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


He said his current goals are to do arbitration work, mediation work and to continue to handle select court cases on a part-time basis.  


Prior to his commencement speech, Newman said he’s excited to be on campus– he said the area is a wonderful part of the state. 


“The most exciting time will be the opportunity of the graduates to share that time, a minute’s time, with their family, friends, staff and becoming graduates,” he said. 

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