Memory Hold The Door
The Honorable Joseph Rodney Moss (1903–1993)
Chief Justice Moss was born on the farm of his parents, James Lucius and Janie Ford Moss in York County on July 15, 1903. He attended Erskine College and completed his legal education at the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1927. He developed a very successful law practice in York with the late John Hart and later with his brother, the late James L. Moss, Jr. He was married in 1931 to the former Rosa Dill of Taylors. She died in 1966. They had no children.
In 1941, Judge Moss was elected to the South Carolina Senate and served in that capacity until his election, without opposition, to the South Carolina Circuit Court Bench in 1948. He was elevated to Associate Justice of the South Carolina Circuit Court Bench in 1948. He was elevated to Associate Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1956 and elected Chief Justice in 1966 where he served until his retirement in 1975. In 1971 he served as Chairman of the National Conference of Chief Justices and is the only South Carolinian to be so honored.
During his term as Chief Justice, he presided over the move of the Supreme Court from the State House to its current location, a move which some saw as symbolic of the separation of powers. He was architect of many statewide court reforms and the unified court system was developed during his tenure on the high court.
He was a lifelong member of the York ARP Church, where he served as a ruling elder. As a teenager he participated in laying the physical foundation of the church.
While Judge Moss’ honors are too numerous to mention, particular notice should be given to the recently dedicated thirty million dollar York County Justice Center which bears his name. Of course the more permanent monument to his distinguished life and career will be found in the more than 600 opinions he authored which are and will be a part of the legal history of this State.
Truly it has been said that he was York County’s greatest contribution to the recent history of South Carolina.