Judge John E. Waites has announced his retirement effective at the end of this week. The Judges, the Clerk of Court, and Court staff take this opportunity to publicly thank Judge Waites for his 28 years of service as a judge of this Court. Throughout those years he has provided extraordinary service to the Court, the bankruptcy bar, and the public at large.
Judge Waites was appointed as a bankruptcy judge for the District of South Carolina on June 27, 1994, and reappointed for a second term in 2008. He served as the District’s Chief Bankruptcy Judge from March 1, 2006 to March 1, 2013.
During his time with the Court, Judge Waites expanded its pro bono program, served on the South Carolina Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and the SC Bar Pro Bono Committee, and founded the South Carolina Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program and the J. Bratton Davis Inn of Court. He also was instrumental in the development of several other public service programs at the Court, including the Pro Se Debtor Assistance Program, a bankruptcy-focused Ask-A-Lawyer program, and bankruptcy legal clinics.
Throughout his career, Judge Waites has worked on the national and local level to improve the bankruptcy system. He served as President of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (2018-2019) and was inducted as a fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy. Judge Waites taught bankruptcy courses as an adjunct professor of law at both the University of South Carolina School of Law (2008-2011) and Charleston School of Law (2010-2014). He has received recognition and awards from various entities, including the Pro Bono Service Award from South Carolina Legal Services (2013), a Special Pro Bono Award from the SC Bar (2013), the J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award from the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association (2014), the Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Civility Award from the Richland County Bar Association (2015), the Pro Bono Service Award from the Legal Services Corporation of the U.S. (2016), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National CARE Financial Literacy Program (2019), and the Order of the Palmetto from Governor McMaster (2022).
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Waites was a partner at Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs & Pollard. He also served as the first United States Trustee for the Region Four, Fourth Circuit and District of Columbia (1987-1992), and as the Estate Administrator for the Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina. From 1980 to 1984, he practiced law in Columbia. Judge Waites is a graduate of Davidson College (B.A. 1977) and the University of South Carolina School of Law (J.D. 1980).
Please join the Judges and staff of the Court in congratulating Judge Waites on his accomplished career and his lasting impact on the practice of bankruptcy law in South Carolina. We wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.