South Carolina's Flagship University

C.C. "Cotton" Harness III

C.C. 'Cotton' Harness III C.C. "Cotton" Harness III, JD 1975, passed away April 26, 2010. Considered to be a pioneer of the alternative dispute resolution movement in SC, he will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

"Cotton Harness' leadership on mediation reshaped the practice of law in South Carolina. He was clearly the father of mediation in South Carolina and a nationally recognized leader in the field," stated Lewis Burke, who teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Mr. Harness had over 30 years of trial experience and was instrumental in promoting dispute resolution systems for organizations, both private and governmental. He became a certified mediator in 1982. When the SC Council for Dispute Resolution (SCDR) was formed, Mr. Harness began working with those interested in ADR, primarily in mediation. Cotton and the Council later participated in Settlement Week in Charleston in 1991. Due to the success of that pilot effort, the ADR committee went on to draft the Court-Annexed Mediation Rule, which was approved by the House of Delegates in 1992. As a result of that action, the acting Chief Justice at the time, David Walker Harwell, and the president of the S.C. Bar, John Hagins, formed a Supreme Court Joint Commission on ADR, which began writing mediation and arbitration rules that began to be implemented in 1995. Today, although the mediation rule has been altered from its original form, it is because of Mr. Harness' vision that it exists.

Capers Barr reflected, "This is only a small part of Cotton's legacy. The other is represented by the many hundreds of mediators he, Mary Bryan and Harry Goodheart have trained over these many years. Gone are the days that a handful of mediators existed to serve the entire state. The crop of neutrals is now large and good, and by any measure that is also a part of Cotton's legacy."

In addition to his mediation work, Mr. Harness was also known for his environmental law practice. He was General Counsel at the South Carolina Coastal Council. While with SCCC he argued Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council before the US Supreme Court, a famous case that established the "takings test for determining whether a regulatory action constitutes a regulatory taking that requires compensation."

In later years he represented members of the regulated community as well as others who interacted with environmental law. "I met Mr. Harness early in my career at the School of Law in the context of an environmental mediation project. He was always happy to come share his wisdom with the students of our law school, and spoke eloquently at various symposia over the years," reports Kim Diana Connolly, who teaches environmental law courses at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Mr. Harness was 61 years old.