SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MODERN POLITICAL COLLECTIONS
C. Bruce Littlejohn papersCameron Bruce Littlejohn was born in Pacolet to Cameron and Lady Sarah Littlejohn on 22 July 1913. The youngest of eight children, Littlejohn entered Wofford College in 1930 to study English and Political Science. He left Wofford after his junior year to enter the University of South Carolina Law School. There, he landed his first elective office as senior class president and was awarded the LL.B. in 1936. He has since received honorary degrees from the University of South Carolina, Converse College, Wofford College, and Limestone College. As no written bar examination existed in 1936, Littlejohn and members of his class were sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Stabler upon graduation and signed the roll of licensed attorneys permitted to practice law. Five weeks after opening his practice in Spartanburg, he entered the race to represent Spartanburg County in the General Assembly. He toured the county that summer, gathering enough support to win a seat in the House of Representatives. He served four consecutive terms between 1937 and 1943.
Littlejohn resigned from the legislature in the summer of 1943 to enter the U.S. Army, where he primarily served in the quarter master corps. After the Japanese surrender, he was sent to the Philippines to help prosecute Japanese war criminals for the International War Crimes Commission. On his return to South Carolina in 1946, Littlejohn successfully recaptured his seat in the legislature. When incumbent speaker Solomon Blatt announced he would not seek re-election, Littlejohn announced his candidacy for the speakership and won, defeating Thomas H. Pope, Jr., in 1947 by seventeen votes. In addition to his legislative duties, Littlejohn practiced law with the firm of Odom, Bostick, Littlejohn, and Nolen.
Although Littlejohn spent a great deal of 1948 and early 1949 campaigning for speaker, he also hoped to win a legislative appointment to the South Carolina Circuit Court, filling the vacancy that would be left by Judge Thomas Sease's retirement in December 1949. This required him to mount a "dual" campaign, as the election for circuit judge fell just one month after the election for speaker. Although he encountered little opposition in either race, he campaigned fervently, asserting that "in politics, nothing can be taken for granted and I am pursuing the matter from all angles just as though other candidates were already in the race" (8 June 1948). For months he corresponded almost daily with legislators and others from around the state. On 11 January 1949, Littlejohn was re-elected speaker without opposition. On 9 February 1949 he was elected resident judge of the Seventh Circuit Court, defeating Senator Bruce White and Representative Arnold Merchant. He resigned as speaker on 12 May and stepped down from the General Assembly on 14 September. Littlejohn assumed his seat on the bench on 15 December 1949.
Littlejohn's transition from the legislature to the circuit court marked the beginning of a productive and challenging judicial career. In his new position, Littlejohn continued to elicit response from colleagues around the state, as he had during his years in the legislature. Solomon Blatt wrote him, 14 July 1952—"I miss you in the House. I can now see you standing with the rule book in your hand. We had some lively fights in your day and I believe we did a good job as the result of those friendly controversies....I have heard many fine compliments paid you in the fair and able manner in which you preside as a Judge." Littlejohn's judicial acumen and far-sightedness were manifested in the innovative approaches his court introduced to South Carolina, including adopting the use of the opening statement and the pre-trial conference.
The death of Chief Justice Claude A. Taylor on 20 January 1966 created a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Littlejohn, fellow judge Julius B. ("Bubba") Ness, state senator Rembert C. Dennis, and former governor George Bell Timmerman each declared their candidacy. In five months of weekly balloting, no candidate was able to obtain the necessary number of votes to win the election. As the general elections in November came and passed, Littlejohn campaigned to gather the support of challengers as well as incumbents. After thirteen additional weeks of balloting, the vote was inconclusive, leaving the General Assembly to adjourn for the winter with the position unfilled. When the Assembly reconvened in 1967, having seated several freshman legislators, Littlejohn's early efforts paid off. Dennis dropped from the race, Timmerman chose to focus his energies on a circuit judgeship, and Littlejohn received pledges from forty-seven new members. On 25 January 1967 Littlejohn defeated Ness by forty-one votes and was elected associate justice. Littlejohn was easily re-elected to a full ten-year term in 1972 and again in 1982.
Littlejohn's tenure as associate justice firmly established his commitment to judicial reform in South Carolina. He was especially involved in reviewing and determining the standards for the admission of new attorneys and judges to the practice of law in South Carolina. Between 1981 and 1987 Littlejohn played a particularly active role in Continuing Legal Education seminars sponsored in part by the South Carolina Bar Association. One seminar series in which Littlejohn participated for several years, "Bridge the Gap," assisted attorneys new to the Bar through the transition from law school to actual practice. The South Carolina Judicial Conference benefited from Littlejohn's contributions as a conference coordinator and participant for almost two decades. Between 1969 and 1988, Littlejohn visited and corresponded regularly with members of the Conference to develop, revise and amend the circuit court rules. Littlejohn was also concerned with sentencing disparities among judges. In a letter to Judge Ness dated 29 October 1985 he wrote—"I am convinced that many of the `Baby Ruth' judges would impose more realistic sentences...if they were required to explain why so many candy bars are being handed out." Littlejohn's service on the Sentencing Alternatives Advisory Committee of the Department of Parole and Community Corrections, as well as his participation in seminars regarding sentencing issues throughout the 1980s and 1990s, reflect his commitment to reform
. Littlejohn's participation in national conferences was equally notable. Motivated by the conviction that "law school accreditation is a farce" (29 September 1982), he sought to improve accreditation standards as well as the integrity of the profession. Between 1962 and 1985 he attended annual and semi-annual conferences of the American Bar Association as well as the Association's special sessions for appellate judges and state trial judges. Throughout the 1980s he served on the Implementation Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which studied and made recommendations governing attorneys' admission to federal practice. He also attended the National Center for State Courts' Conference of Chief Justices as delegate for Chief Justice Woodrow Lewis.
Justice Lewis reached retirement age in 1984, providing Littlejohn the opportunity to run for the office. His longtime colleague and sole potential opponent, "Bubba" Ness, chose not to run. On 8 February 1984 Littlejohn assumed the office of chief justice, to serve the remainder of Lewis' unexpired term. He was elected to a full ten-year term on 9 May, although he would reach mandatory retirement age the following July. During his sixteen months in office, he helped settle the rule-making authority issue that had divided the judiciary and legislature for years. This bold compromise granted the legislature veto power over court rules with a three-fifths vote of the General Assembly. Littlejohn considered this compromise "the most important accomplishment of my administration as Chief Justice" (South Carolina Forum, July-September 1991). Littlejohn retired as Chief Justice on 22 July 1985 at the age of seventy-two.
Littlejohn has continued well into the 1990s to hold court and offer opinions as Chief Justice, Retired. Additionally, he has been a prolific writer. He is the author of three books: Laugh With the Judge (1974), a collection of amusing courtroom incidents that occurred between 1949 and 1974; Littlejohn's Half-Century at the Bench and Bar (1987), an historical account of changes in the South Carolina court system between 1936 and 1986; and Littlejohn's Political Memoirs (1989), a firsthand review of South Carolina politics from 1936 to 1988. His popular writing style and the breadth of his experiences have proven to be a successful combination. The reputation of Laugh With the Judge even reached a member of the Supreme Court of Pakistan who wrote—"In one of the recent issues of the American Bar Association Journal, I was really impressed to find a brief and lucid introduction of your worthy book...I am, therefore, venturing to write you with the request that you may please extend the grace of getting a copy of this esteemed publication" (20 October 1975). Greenville U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson, Jr., described Littlejohn's Half-Century as "an invaluable research tool for scholars and others interested in our profession and the history of our state" (4 February 1988). For a number of years, Littlejohn has also contributed a regular column, "Chatting With the Bar," to the South Carolina State Bar's newsletter The Transcript. Several of his articles have also been published in national law journals.
The collection consists of twenty-one and a quarter linear feet of material, 1938-1995, arranged in three series: Public Papers, Personal Papers, and Judicial Papers. Public papers document Littlejohn's legislative career as member and speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1936-1943 and 1946-1949, as well as his active participation and leadership in several local and national conferences and committees related to his service as resident judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, 1949-1967; his tenure as associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, 1967-1984; and chief justice, 1984-1985. Public papers also contain Littlejohn's speeches covering a broad range of political, legal and judicial topics. Personal papers primarily concern Littlejohn's political campaigns and writings. Campaign files reflect his exhaustive and successful efforts throughout 1948 and 1949 to gather support for his election as speaker and as resident judge of the Seventh Circuit, as well as his campaign for associate justice of the Supreme Court. Material relating to Littlejohn's writing includes correspondence, drafts of Laugh With the Judge and Littlejohn's Half-Century at the Bench and Bar, and drafts of articles written for local and national legal journals and newsletters. Judicial papers contain correspondence, notes, and case rosters compiled during Littlejohn's years on the judiciary. Due to the privacy issues involved, access to Judicial Papers is restricted until the year 2020.
Among Public Papers, General Papers, 1943-1995, contain documents generated during Littlejohn's political and judicial careers. Papers relating to his legislative career include correspondence with colleagues in the General Assembly, letters written to colleagues during his campaign for re-election to the House and for speaker, and correspondence regarding committee appointments, and other legal and political issues. Papers relating to his early days as circuit court judge consist primarily of correspondence with other attorneys and clerks between 1949 and 1958.
The unit Conferences and Seminars, 1967-1988, illustrates Littlejohn's concern for the integrity of his profession through correspondence, notes, minutes, schedules and background material that reflects his participation in local, state, and national gatherings. Subjects such as judicial ethics and dispute resolution are included in material from several independent seminars.
In the unit on Speeches, 1938-1993, handwritten and typed manuscripts cover a wide range of political topics and social events. The earliest items are campaign speeches presented by a young, ambitious Bruce Littlejohn to live audiences and radio listeners during his 1938, 1940, 1942, and 1948 General Assembly election campaigns. Littlejohn spoke at several conferences and gatherings throughout the 1960s on topics including crime, law enforcement, the role of the judiciary, and community involvement. Littlejohn's speeches from the 1970s and 1980s reflect his growing commitment to judicial reform, but also address topics such as judicial ethics, lawyer competency, professional responsibility, continuing legal education, sentencing disparities and arbitration. A 1993 speech honors Roger Milliken on his induction into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
Topical Files, 1960-1989, reflect Littlejohn's numerous professional contributions and interests. His work on behalf of judicial reform is evident in material generated during his participation in a number of South Carolina Supreme Court special committees, which studied and proposed guidelines to ensure the quality and integrity of practicing attorneys, as well as rules for appellate, circuit, and family courts.
Among the Personal Papers, Topical Files, 1945-1986, contain correspondence between Littlejohn, family members and friends documenting his daily life; genealogical information; and records of awards and honors, reunions of the University of South Carolina Law School, Littlejohn's participation in the International War Crimes Commission during World War II, the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, and the Democratic Party of South Carolina, 1964-1967.
Campaign Files, 1948-1982, document Littlejohn's successful efforts in his 1949 elections as speaker and Circuit Court judge, his 1967 election as Supreme Court associate justice, and his 1982 re-election.
Writings, 1964-1988, include drafts of Laugh With the Judge and Littlejohn's Half-Century at the Bench and Bar, followed by notes, reference material, and correspondence between Littlejohn and his editors and publishers. Drafts and published articles dating from 1985 through early 1992 document Littlejohn's contributions to several publications, including a regular series published in the South Carolina State Bar's newsletter The Transcript titled "Chatting With the Bar." Also included are letters, article drafts and notes compiled during Littlejohn's service, 1964-1967, on the editorial committee of the Trial Judges Journal, a quarterly publication of the American Bar Association's National Conference of State Trial Judges.
Clippings, 1946-1995, contain material that highlights Littlejohn's early legislative election campaigns and his judicial career, as well as topical material reflecting Littlejohn's personal and professional interests. Particularly noteworthy is an oversized scrapbook containing clippings from South Carolina newspapers such as the Spartanburg Herald, Greenville News, and Columbia Record, chronicling Littlejohn's activities in the General Assembly, election as speaker, and election and early days as Seventh Circuit judge.
Judicial Papers, 1965-1994, consist of correspondence, notes, and case rosters compiled during Littlejohn's years on the bench. Correspondence with attorneys and other justices regarding cases and legal principles supplements the official public record. Littlejohn's notes and annotated documents offer insights into the intellectual process that resulted in his printed legal opinions. Case rosters are also annotated, reflecting Littlejohn's daily activities. Access to this series is restricted.
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