Judge Hayes was elected to the Circuit Court bench in May 1991 to fill the unexpired term of Judge Robert L. McFadden. Judge Hayes' term began September 3, 1991 and twenty-five days later, he married Sarah Lynn Dorsey and doubled the number of his children from three to six. Sarah Lynn Hayes (UNC '69), holds a PhD in Education from the University of South Carolina and is employed with Rock Hill School District No. 3. Judge Hayes' son John C. Hayes IV practices law in Charleston in his firm, Hayes Law Firm, LLC. John and his wife Cindy are part owners of Horton-Hayes Art Gallery in Charleston. Cindy manages the Gallery. Judge Hayes’ daughter Mary Scott McLaurin is married to Barnes McLaurin of Columbia. Mary Scott and Barnes have two sons, Kean and Barnes. Judge Hayes’ daughter Frances is married to Telfair Parker of Charleston. Frances and Telfair have one son, Telfair. Judge Hayes has three stepchildren, Matt Nance, Tyler Nance and Jessica Nance Rushing. Jessica is married to Chris Rushing of Monroe, NC.
Judge Hayes' father, John Calvin Hayes, Jr., died in 1954 and his mother, Frances Rippelmeyer Hayes, a life long educator, died in 1998. His sister Susan Kelly lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina as does Judge Hayes. Susan retired from full-time teaching high school English in 1999.
Judge Hayes graduated from Winthrop Training School in 1963 and attended the University of the South in the 1963 - 1964 school year. He transferred to the University of South Carolina and received his A.B. Degree with a major in English in 1967. He started law school at the University of South Carolina in the fall of 1967 and completed his first year in the spring of 1968. He was required to do active military service as a U.S. Army Reservist during the following school year and returned to law school in 1969 and obtained his J.D. in 1971. While in law school he served on the Law Review and had two articles published therein.
Judge Hayes clerked for then Chief Justice Joseph R. Moss before joining the firm of Hayes, Brunson and Gatlin with which he practiced until election to the bench. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives 1981-1984 and the South Carolina Senate 1984-1991. During these years, Judge Hayes served on numerous civic and law related boards and commissions and during the period of 1980 to 1991 he served on the South Carolina Coastal Council, chairing same for four years. Judge Hayes has been a member of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour since 1959.