Franklin Dorrah Cleckley


Franklin Dorrah Cleckley



Franklin Cleckley was born on August 1, 1940 in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia and raised in McDowell County, West Virginia. He received his A.B. from Anderson College in 1962, and then he entered the Indiana University School of Law. He received his J.D. in 1965, and then he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving in the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps in Vietnam. His skills were so noted that he was named the most requested lawyer in Vietnam by the Secretary of Defense, and he received the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal. Upon leaving the Navy, he enrolled at Harvard University Law School, receiving his LL.M. in 1969. Upon graduation, he joined the faculty at the West Virginia University College of Law, become the first African-American full professor in the University’s history. Cleckley taught at West Virginia until 1994, when he was appointed to the West Virginia Supreme Court. After serving for two years on the court, he returned to West Virginia University College of Law where he continued to serve as an emeritus faculty member until his death.

Justice Cleckley was a prolific author, writing the Handbook on Evidence for West Virginia Lawyers and the Handbook on West Virginia Criminal Procedure, and he co-authored other books on the practice of law in West Virginia. He received numerous awards for his work over the years, including the Civil Libertarian of the Year Award from the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union; the Civil Rights Award from the West Virginia Human Rights Commission; the West Virginia NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall Award; and the Public Citizen of the Year Award by the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Justice Cleckley was inducted into the Law School’s Academy of Law Alumni Fellows in 1995.

Justice Cleckley died on August 14, 2017.


West Virginia College of Law, West Virginia Supreme Court, State Supreme Court Justices, African-American Lawyers, Maurer Alumni, Academy of Law Alumni Fellows


Judges | Law | Legal Biography | Legal Education | Legal Profession



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Franklin Dorrah Cleckley