Judge Deborah Neese was born the third of five daughters to Harry Yates Neese and Johnnie Sowell Neese, residents of Lexington County. She attended and graduated from Lexington public schools during an era when Lexington was a small town. Against her father’s wishes, she attended Clemson University but, with his blessing, received her B.A., cum laude, from USC in 1973.
Following employment with Lexington County DSS as a child protective services worker, Judge Neese began law school in 1978 and received her J.D. from the USC School of Law in 1980. She was then employed as a Staff Attorney with the SC Supreme Court until the inception of the second SC Court of Appeals in 1983. At that time and others, she served as law clerk to Chief Judge Alexander M. Sanders, Jr., and continued to serve with him during his first year as President of the College of Charleston. She counts those years of service as among the most challenging, educational, and enjoyable of her life.
Judge Neese was also an associate with McKay & Guerard and an Assistant SC Attorney General before taking a position as State Attorney with the Child Support Enforcement Division in 1996. She served with the Division for ten years, practicing exclusively in family court.
After law school, Judge Neese was active in the Young Lawyers Division of the SC Bar and a recipient of the SC Young Lawyer of the Year Award. She has enjoyed further participation in Bar activities, including service on the board and as editor of South Carolina Lawyer, the Children’s Law Committee, the Speaker’s Bureau, and the Law-Related Education Committee middle school and high school mock trial subcommittees. She co-authored Sanders, Neese, & Nichols, Trial Handbook for South Carolina Lawyers.
Judge Neese is a proud resident of the town of Saluda and a member of The Episcopal Church of the Ridge. She enjoys watching classic movies, reading, and listening to a variety of music. Rumors that she is neurotically attached to her feline child, Pumpkin, may have some basis in fact.
On February 7, 2007, Judge Neese was elected to the Family Court Bench for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Her term commenced on July 1, 2007.