Huntington, WV Black History

Franklin Cleckley

WV Supreme Court Justice/Author

Franklin Cleckley was the first African American to serve on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Cleckley was born in Huntington but raised in McDowell County.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Anderson College, his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law in 1965, and a LL.M degree from Harvard Law School in 1969. He served three years in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War as a Judge Advocate General.

In 1996, he became the first African American to join the faculty at West Virginia College of Law.  He also served as a visiting professor at Syracuse University, the University of Maryland, the University of Mississippi, William & Mary Law School, Louisiana State University and Mercer University.

Cleckley was the first African American to serve on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.  He is the author of many law handbooks. In 2001, the Supreme Court referred to Cleckley’s handbooks on evidence and criminal procedures as “the bible for West Virginia’s judges and attorneys.”

Justice Cleckley established the Franklin D. Cleckley Foundation to provide assistance for the educational and employment needs of people with prior criminal records. He was honored with many awards including Civil Libertarian of Year Award, the Civil Right Award from the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, the West Virginia NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award and the Neil S. Buckley Award for Social Justice.

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