Incident to the Investiture of
The Honorable John Williamson Kittredge
As Justice of
The Supreme Court of South Carolina
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Supreme Court Building
Columbia, South Carolina
The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal, Chief Justice
Pastor Richard Gibbons
The Honorable David Wilkins
The Honorable Karl B. Allen
OF THE OATH: The Honorable Jean Hoefer Toal
The Honorable John Williamson Kittredge
BENEDICTION: The Reverend
Charles D. Cooper
Kathleen M. Richardson, RPR, CRR
Official Court Reporter
JUSTICE TOAL: This special term of the Supreme Court of South Carolina is called into session for the purpose of ceremonies incident to the Investiture of the Honorable John Williamson Kittredge as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. I bring greetings to all of you in attendance in this courtroom overflowing with friends of John Kittredge and his family and to those who are joining these ceremonies by Educational Television or by streamed proceedings on our website or by our realtime court reporting by Mrs. Richardson. To one and all, thank you on behalf of the Court for participating in these historic proceedings. I'd now like to call upon Pastor Richard Gibbons, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina, for the Invocation.
PASTOR GIBBONS: Madame Chief
Justice, if it may please the Court. Thank you very much for the warm
invitation to be with you today. On a personal note, I am delighted to be here
to take part in these proceedings. John, I bring good wishes from many friends
in Greenville, and particularly the staff and the elders and congregation of
First Presbyterian Greenville. They bring warmest congratulations to you.
Can we continue with our proceedings as we pray together. Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we gather before this Court today and on this auspicious occasion to pray for Justice Kittredge and to express our heartfelt gratitude to you for him and his elevation to the Supreme Court of South Carolina. Today we also remind ourselves that by your grace and providential care, eleven score and six years ago, we the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and secure the blessings of liberty brought forth on this continent a new nation, a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
We consider ourselves blessed
to be part of such a nation, a nation where liberty and justice for all are
considered an inalienable right, a right which we hold to be self-evident. Today,
in these opening moments of this investiture, we also pray for our nation, our
President and Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and members of Congress.
We pray for the State of South Carolina, for our Governor, Lieutenant Governor,
members of the Cabinet, and members of the Legislature, and all who serve with
wisdom and grace within our judicial system.
We consider ourselves blessed to be part of such a state where so many seek to serve for the benefit of others. We thank you for the men and women who selflessly give of their time and invest so much in creatively enabling this state to be a place which actively seeks to insure domestic tranquility, provide for our common defense, promote the general welfare of our community and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Father, we recognize this date that at the heart of such a society lies our judicial process and we thank you for the stabilizing, guiding, and protecting influence which it provides.
We express today our gratitude for the insight and collective wisdom of our nation's legal minds, for each person who down the years has in your presence taken the solemn oath of office and committed themselves to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State and of these United States. They have sought to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and have pledged to discharge their duties in a manner that will treat all persons with civility, fairness and respect. They have sought to listen courteously, to sit impartially, to act promptly, and to rule after careful and considered deliberation while seeking justice alone. Father, it is for all these reasons that we delight to be here today gathered in the sure and certain knowledge that despite our sinful flaws within our own human nature and in our society, we actively seek to support and pray for a fair and balanced system of justice for all.
Father, as John takes up the
mantle of these new responsibilities, we thank you for him, for his innate
desire to serve, his longing to maintain and uphold the rule of law, his
seeking to administer justice with equity, to act punitively, and to deliver mercy
to those who have been abused and wronged. Father, we also pray for his wife,
Lila. We thank you for her and her loving and gracious support to him during
these married years of life together. We also thank you for the blessing that
their children, Zay and Will and daughter Lila have been to them.
Today we offer up this prayer for John and his colleagues on the bench, grateful to you for each one of them for the wisdom, experience, and grace which they bring to this a most demanding of tasks. Father, enable him in the days to come to sense your guiding hand upon his life and to serve, empower that service with strength of character and daily dependence on you, the living God, for divine wisdom, discernment, and insight into the many and complex issues which he will face. So Father, today we commit Justice Kittredge, his family, and each of his colleagues to you and ask that each one will be conscious of your presence and guiding hand upon their lives.
Father, we conclude our prayer today remindful of the prayerful words of our first President, George Washington, who on the 14th of June, 1783, wrote these words. I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, to be dependent upon his holy protection and that you would incline the hearts of those citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to their Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another as fellow citizens, and particularly for those brethren who have served these United States, and finally, that you would most graciously be pleased to dispose all of us to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with the charity, humility, and specific temper of mind, which are the characteristics of a loving, just, Divine Author. Father, we bring our prayers to you this evening in Jesus’ name. Amen.
JUSTICE TOAL: It will shortly be my honor to present our speaker for remarks. But prior to that time I am authorized by my brothers and my brother elect to make these remarks on the ascension to senior status of our brother, James E. Moore. Jim is a judge's judge, the most decent and one of the most intellectually capable judges who has ever served on this Court. Jim leads by example. I'm sometimes reminded, as my brothers are, of those wonderful words of John's about love, that it's not puffed up or pompous, and that so much describes our brother Jim Moore. He is steady. And his steadying hand has been a source of guidance and comfort to the members of this Court and to the bench of South Carolina for his entire judicial career, and before that for many of us who had the honor of serving with him in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
In recent years Jim has taken on the task of chairing the Court's Commission on the Profession, the very first chair for this important work of restoring real professionalism to the practice of law in South Carolina, and again, a more worthy and knowledgeable chairman could not have been picked because he leads by example. He's the paradigm of what we want our profession to be like and act like as we move forward in South Carolina.
Jim, we hope John will be a worthy successor and bring over time the wisdom you have brought to us. But in the meantime, we'll give you a short respite to check on Mary's do list and decide what the Duke Blue Devils are going to do next year. And after that short respite, we expect to see you back on this Court many, many times doing what you do best, bringing wisdom to the citizens of South Carolina and to your colleagues. We love you dearly.
JUSTICE MOORE: Thank you.
JUSTICE TOAL: This Court is greatly honored today to have with us the United States Ambassador to Canada. But to us, he is our friend, Mr. Speaker. I have the honor to present the Honorable David H. Wilkins for remarks.
MR. WILKINS: May it please the Court, Madame Chief Justice, Justices of the Court, members of the Federal and State Judiciary, members of the Legislature, elected officials, ladies and gentlemen, friends of John and Lila Kittredge all. Few people have had as special a place in my life as John Kittredge has. John and I go back farther -- farther than most of us care to admit. In fact, I knew John when I even had hair.
Beginning in 1984 we practiced law together for eight years. And when I first interviewed John for the job, I asked him what kind of salary he wanted. And he told me he wasn't worried about the salary, that he knew I'd be fair, that he was going to work very hard, and that he was sure I'd pay him what he was worth. I hired him on the spot. But I have to admit to you, I could never have paid John Kittredge what he was worth because he not only became my law partner, but more importantly my confidante and trusted friend. You simply can't put a price tag on loyalty and friendship, and that friendship and loyalty between us has simply grown with each passing year.
John and I tried many cases together, and that's when I really got to know him, in the heat of battle. When you spend hundreds of hours preparing for trial and trying cases with someone, you really get to know what they're all about. And what I saw in that young, ambitious attorney are the same characteristics embodied in the Justice to be sworn in today to the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
We all know people who change as they climb the ladder of success. In their greatness, they become small, abandoning the values that helped make them successful in the first place. Others simply grow. Their roots only get stronger as they reach higher. They become even wiser, kinder, more thoughtful and more faithful. They know where they're going because they never forget where they have been. They use the gifts that God gave them to light their world. Some people just leave everything they touch better than they found it. That is John Kittredge.
For as long as I have known
John, he's had an internal moral compass constantly guiding him. He has that
inner peace that comes with having a deep, abiding faith in the Lord. He
relies on his faith, his family and his friends to sustain him. And anyone who
knows John understands without any doubt how much his family means to him. You
see, John learned early in life that it's not the credentials on the wall that make
you a decent human being. Rather, it's the decency in which you treat others.
So while I know John is proud to ascend to this high position in his distinguished career, if it all went away instantly, he would be the same person tomorrow that he is today. And that's exactly what makes John Kittredge not only a great father, a great husband, and a great friend, but also a great judge. In his courtroom every person is important and deserving of justice regardless of title or station in life.
A few years ago my son Robert was John's law clerk, and I think it was one of the best years of Robert's life. John truly became and has since been a mentor and a role model for Robert, and for that Susan and I are eternally grateful. That entire year John called Robert his Law Clerk of the Year. Of course, Robert was his only law clerk -- of the year. And two weeks ago, almost to this hour, Robert and Stephanie's twins, Whit and Clary, were born, our first grandchildren, and John was the first person other than the immediate family at the hospital that afternoon to see the twins, to congratulate Robert and share in their joy. That is John Kittredge. He truly cares about other people.
Norman Vincent Peale once said, “When you affirm big, believe big, and pray big, big things happen.” This is indeed a big day for John, his family, and all his many friends, but it is also a big day for the people of South Carolina and for our judicial system. We are all beneficiaries of this day, for we all know that one judge will impact thousands of lives through the course of a career. So Justice Kittredge, I wish you God's blessing in this next phase of your distinguished career. South Carolina is a better place because of your service. May God continue to bless you, and God bless South Carolina. Thank you very much.
JUSTICE TOAL: It is now my honor to present a distinguished member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Greenville County, and a fine lawyer, the Honorable Karl B. Allen who will present the Honorable John Williamson Kittredge to the Court. Representative Allen.
REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN: May it please the Court, Associate Justices. It is certainly my pleasure to be able to participate in this ceremony. It is my pleasure because through these halls have came many great jurists. And as Tim Russert, the late Tim Russert, would say, we must be prepared, we must work hard, and we must take our place. At this ceremony someone is preparing to be presented to take their place.
And I have the utmost confidence in this Justice Elect because I’ve experienced him in every level of the trial court, and he has done just that by reputation. My confidence is nurtured in his reputation for integrity. My confidence is nurtured in the way he treats the least of these and his fellow man. My confidence is nurtured as a lawyer for my colleagues based on his ability to be prepared.
And so as I present, I am presenting one who when people question the rapid growth with speed his ascension from one court level of trial to the next, I simply say to them that the steps of a good man is ordered by the Lord.
I was talking up here with
David, and I have to say to the Ambassador, that also as I present, that when I
met John Kittredge, I had hair on my head as well.
And so I will call at this time someone who the State of South Carolina, a gem is getting ready to receive, to serve this State, this Court, and our God well. I will call Justice Elect John W. Kittredge forward for the commission.
It is my pleasure on behalf
of the State of South Carolina by His Excellency, the Governor and Commander in
Chief to present on behalf of the colleagues of the General Assembly this
commission to the Honorable John W. Kittredge for Supreme Court Judge Seat 3.
Now, be it known, that in pursuance of this election, we now give to you to have, to hold, and exercise the said office as aforesaid together with all the powers, rights, and privileges thereunto. Signed by His Excellency, the Governor, the Honorable Marshall Sanford, the Honorable Secretary of State, Mark Hammond. And at this time to this great jurist I so present this commission to you.
REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN: Madame Chief Justice, it is my high pleasure and honor to present Justice Elect John Williamson Kittredge to the Supreme Court for the State of South Carolina for the administration of the oath of office.
JUSTICE TOAL: Now Judge
Kittredge, if you will come forward. You will repeat after me. I do solemnly
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I do solemnly swear.
JUSTICE TOAL: That I am duly qualified.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: That I am duly qualified.
JUSTICE TOAL: According to the Constitution of this State.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: According to the Constitution of this State.
JUSTICE TOAL: To exercise the duties of the office.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: To exercise the duties of the office.
JUSTICE TOAL: Of justice.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Of justice.
JUSTICE TOAL: Of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.
JUSTICE TOAL: And that I will.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And that I will.
JUSTICE TOAL: To the best of my ability.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: To the best of my ability.
JUSTICE TOAL: Discharge the duties thereof.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Discharge the duties thereof.
JUSTICE TOAL: And preserve, protect, and defend.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And preserve, protect, and defend.
JUSTICE TOAL: The Constitution of this State.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: The Constitution of this State.
JUSTICE TOAL: And of the United States.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And of the United States.
JUSTICE TOAL: I pledge to uphold the integrity.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I pledge to uphold the integrity.
JUSTICE TOAL: And independence.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And independence.
JUSTICE TOAL: Of the judiciary.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Of the judiciary.
JUSTICE TOAL: I pledge in the discharge of my duties.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I pledge in the discharge of my duties.
JUSTICE TOAL: To treat all persons who enter the courtroom.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: To treat all persons who enter the courtroom.
JUSTICE TOAL: With civility.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: With civility.
JUSTICE TOAL: Fairness.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Fairness.
JUSTICE TOAL: And respect.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And respect.
JUSTICE TOAL: I pledge to listen courteously.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I pledge to listen courteously.
JUSTICE TOAL: Sit impartially.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Sit impartially.
JUSTICE TOAL: And act promptly.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And act promptly.
JUSTICE TOAL: And rule.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And rule.
JUSTICE TOAL: After careful and considerate deliberation.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: After careful and considerate deliberation.
JUSTICE TOAL: I pledge to seek justice.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: I pledge to seek justice.
JUSTICE TOAL: And justice alone.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: And justice alone.
JUSTICE TOAL: So help me God.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: So help me God.
JUSTICE TOAL: Thank you.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: Thank you.
JUSTICE TOAL: Ladies and gentlemen, my honor to present the Honorable John Williamson Kittredge, Justice, Supreme Court of South Carolina for remarks. Justice Kittredge.
JUSTICE KITTREDGE: May it please the Court. Madame Chief Justice, Members of the Court, Ambassador Wilkins, members of the South Carolina Legislature, fellow members of the bar and bench, family, and friends all, I thank you. Please permit me to briefly touch upon several things.
First and foremost I thank and praise God from whom all blessings truly flow. Today is a blessing from God and his grace abounds.
Second, I thank God for a wonderful family, especially my beautiful wife Lila. Lila and I have been blessed with three children we love so dearly. Lila Marian, Will, and Zay. My mom is here today, and her steadfast love and support through the years has sustained and strengthened me. And I can't imagine anyone having a better brother and sister, and I thank Kirby and Zay for their love. So many other family members are here, and I thank each of you. As you can see in the program, the flowers in the lobby are in memory of family who passed away, my dad, a loving father, and my brother Kitt who passed away recently.
Chief, third on my list is
you and the members of this Court. And in recognizing this Court, I want to
reiterate your remarks about the great jurist, indeed great person, I am
succeeding, Justice Jim Moore. I'm humbled by the prospect of succeeding such
an icon in the South Carolina legal community.
Justice Moore, we honor you today, sir, for your intellect, your character, and your remarkable legacy to the profession you have so faithfully served. Chief, as I have said before, in my 17 years as a member of the South Carolina Judiciary, I have served under five superb Chief Justices all with special gifts and talents, and your service has been exceptional. Whether the issue is technology innovation, managing ever-increasing court dockets, improved efficiency in the trial courts through alternative dispute resolution, promotion of professionalism or otherwise, your leadership has been extraordinary. And now I'm privileged to work alongside you and the three other outstanding jurists and friends, Justice Waller, Justice Pleicones, and Justice Beatty.
I'd like to mention someone
else, former Chief Justice Bruce Littlejohn. Chief Justice Littlejohn and I
became very, very close through the years, and I thank God for that
relationship. He was truly a great person, unassuming, kind with a keen
intellect that he deflected with his humor and quick wit. Chief Justice
Littlejohn earned the respect of all who knew him, not because he demanded it, but
because his character compelled it. I asked him once why he would show an
interest in me. He said, John, that's easy. You listen to my stories for the
hundredth time and you act like it's the first time.
Many years ago he told me he thought I had a chance to serve on the Supreme Court, and he brought it up almost every time we talked. He loved talking strategy. And he told me he hoped to live long enough to help me get here. I miss him and I'm thinking of him today, and I'm especially thinking of my father and brother.
This leads to my fourth and final point, to thank those of you who are here. I'm thinking of you today. I thank those on the program, my friend Reverend Richard Gibbons; Father, as I call him, Coach, Pete Cooper; my strong ally and friend, Representative Karl Allen; and Mr. Ambassador, especially you. David, you know my feelings for you and the depth of my appreciation for your long-standing friendship through the years. Thank you, sir.
I want to recognize someone else who has been very special to me, who first modeled for me the traits of the consummate judge, Judge Billy Wilkins, a mentor, confidante, and dear friend. Thank you, Judge.
Whether it was the Family
Court bench, the Circuit Court bench, or most recently on the Court of Appeals,
I have been privileged to serve with quality judges, quality people. As I
leave the Court of Appeals, I salute that wonderful and talented group of
judges. Also seated on the bench and indeed throughout this courtroom are
other judges and members of the bar whose friendship has been strong through
Yet most here today are not judges or lawyers. There are so many here who have befriended me through the years and I think of families like the Websters, the Schwiers and others. Perhaps you're a childhood friend like Smyth, Rod, Doug, Murray, Billy or Byrd. Perhaps you're a friend from church like Andy or Edward or Don or Lisa. Perhaps you stood beside me as a brother like Chuck or Brad or Dave or Tommy or Chris.
And to you, my friends in the South Carolina General Assembly, you chose to stand with me even when all the candidates were so well qualified. So many in the General Assembly stood firmly with me and never wavered during the process. Many such supporters are here today, and I wish I knew how to adequately express my gratitude. I simply say from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you to each of you. And I hope that I'm able to convey just a small measure of the depth of my heartfelt gratitude.
Ladies and gentlemen, each of
you here today is special. You honor me and humble me by your presence. I
wish time permitted for me to thank each of you. Please know that I look
forward to thanking each of you personally.
I pledge to each one here and indeed all the citizens of our great state that I will respond to this opportunity and blessing by devoting myself to honoring my oath to uphold the rule of law and be a faithful steward of this important position for all the people of South Carolina.
I close with a verse that
Lila shared with me in the car on the way over here this afternoon. It's from
Micah. “And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Thank you. God bless you.
JUSTICE TOAL: Now I present the Reverend Charles D. Pete Cooper, St. John’s Episcopal Church, retired, Florence, South Carolina for the Benediction.
REVEREND COOPER: May it please the Court. Madame Chief Justice, former partner in the Shandon Vegetable co-op.
CHIEF JUSTICE: Exactly.
REVEREND COOPER: I survived that.
Like a couple of our other speakers, I knew John when I had long hair. I still have mine.
A couple of quick things that
I would like to say before we pray. John would expect no less. I’ve been a
life-long teacher and coach, and see so many of my former students here today.
He'd expect no less, Latin with much background.
Actually I only had two, but now I look up there and look up there at yourself, remember, nil ultra. Don't forget that. But there are two others. Two others. The language of the law, those of you who are lawyers, language of the law, Latin, but also of poetry and myth and literature. First of all, John Kittredge is the best model and example I can think of, and he has been a model and example for me, even though I'm quite a number of years older than he. He has been for many years.
I wanted to share the one
with you, Esse quam bonum. John has modeled that better than anyone I
have ever known, and I have known some folks. Esse quam bonum is to be
rather than to seem. I see even Judge Anderson is shaking his head. To be
rather than to seem. Cicero and Silas, Plato and Aeschylus all said that in
one way or another. But to be rather than to seem, there are two words that
are involved there. One is character. The other is integrity. Two words that
everybody in this room recognizes as characteristics of John Kittredge.
But there’s a third that I thought of on the way over here, and that -- before it became cool. Remember those two, integrity and character, Remember those other two, no fear. No fear. There's no fear in this man and never has been. Our own South Carolina state motto, Dum spiro spero. Literally while I breathe, I hope, with a slight twist today, it's good advice and hope for all of us, John, while we breathe, we hope as you will in thought and word and deed.
Let us pray. Oh God of peace who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; by the might of your spirit, lift us, we pray, to your presence where we may be still and know that you are God. Almighty God who has given us this good land for our heritage, we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those whom in thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may always show forth thy praise among the nations of the Earth.
In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble suffer not our trust in thee to fail. Almighty God who sitteth in the throne judging right, we humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates of all this land and especially John Kittredge and this Supreme Court, and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding that they may discern the truth and impartially administer the law and the fear of the below to him who shall come to be our Judge. Amen.
JUSTICE TOAL: Following these proceedings all are welcome to a reception to be held in Justice Kittredge's honor at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. And now the purpose for which this special term of the Court was assembled having been accomplished, we are adjourned.