Justice Kaye G. Hearn, a native Pennsylvanian, received her undergraduate degree from Bethany College, graduating cum laude. She earned her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, also graduating cum laude. Justice Hearn began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Julius B. Ness, Associate Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She then practiced law with the firm of Stevens, Stevens, Thomas, Hearn, & Hearn in Loris, South Carolina.
In 1986, Justice Hearn was elected as Family Court Judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit, comprising Horry and Georgetown Counties. During her tenure as a family court judge, she served as treasurer, vice-president, and president of the South Carolina Conference of Family Court Judges.
In 1995, Justice Hearn was elected to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. In 1998, she received an L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia's Graduate Program for Judges. The following year, she was elected as Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals. From 2005-2006, Justice Hearn served as President of the Council of Chief Judges of the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Justice Hearn was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court in May 2009.
Justice Hearn is a past member of the South Carolina Board of Bar Examiners, the CLE Commission, the Nelson, Mullins, Riley, & Scarborough Professionalism Committee, the Chief Justice's Commission on the Profession, and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. Currently, she is a member of the University of South Carolina Law School's Partnership Board and the Charleston School of Law Board of Advisors. Since 2006, she has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Charleston School of Law, teaching a class on appellate advocacy.
Justice Hearn is married to George M. Hearn, Jr., a Conway attorney and member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. They have one daughter Kathleen.