Judge J. Michael Baxley is a resident of Hartsville, South Carolina, and was born there on August 24, 1956. He is a son of William H. (deceased) and Merle Davis Baxley, and has three brothers – Bill, Buddy, and Tim. The Baxley Family was honored in 1985 by Governor Richard Riley as South Carolina's Family of the Year.
Mike showed an early interest in politics, serving as President of the Student Body at Hartsville High School, from which he graduated in 1974. He went on to Clemson where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with a Minor in History in 1978.
While at Clemson, Mike was active in student government and University activities, serving as a member of the Student Senate, Vice President of the Student Body, President of the Student Body, Speaker of the South Carolina State Student Legislature, and Speaker of the National Student Congress.
After graduating from Clemson, Mike worked in Washington, DC for the United States Congress as a legislative assistant, a position which he left to enroll at the University of South Carolina School of Law. After graduating in 1982, he returned to Hartsville as a partner in the firm of Driggers & Baxley, engaging in the general practice of law with an emphasis in civil litigation.
In 1986, Mike was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from District 65 which is comprised of portions of Chesterfield, Darlington, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter counties. He was elected Chairman of the Freshman Caucus by his legislative colleagues, and was appointed to the Judiciary Committee. Mike served in the Legislature for twelve years.
During that time he was privileged to receive legislator of the year awards from such diverse groups as the South Carolina Ex-POW's; the South Carolina Association of the Deaf; the NAACP Youth Division; the South Carolina Rural Water Association; and the South Carolina Mental Health Association.
Mike did not seek re-election to the legislature in 1998 and returned to private law practice in Hartsville. He was elected by the General Assembly to a resident judicial seat of the Fourth Circuit on February 8, 2000.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys kayaking, fishing, arrowhead hunting, reading, gardening and working out. He lives with his chocolate lab/boykin spaniel mix Gatsby.