Judge Deborah Ann Malphrus is a South Carolina low country native. Born on August 7, 1964, to the late Patricia Ann Lowther Malphrus and the late Joseph Nelson Malphrus, she is the youngest of three children. Judge Malphrus’s earliest memories revolve around the legal and judicial system. Her childhood home was located across the street from the Jasper County Courthouse and adjacent to her father’s law office. Her service to the judicial system began at the age of four when she served as jury girl for “big court” in Jasper County.
Judge Malphrus graduated high school from Thomas Heyward, Ridgeland, SC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of South Carolina in 1987. While at the University, she was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity and also a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. During and after law school, Judge Malphrus worked as a Registered Nurse at Baptist Medical Center and Lexington Medical Center. She was also a volunteer nurse at the Columbia Free Medical Clinic.
Though Judge Malphrus considered attending medical school after nursing school, her passion was and has remained to the law. After graduating from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1990, Judge Malphrus served as law clerk to the late Honorable Carol Connor. Judge Malphrus’s father instilled in her the love for the law. However, it was Judge Connor who made her passionate about aspiring to serve in the judiciary. After completing her clerkship to Judge Connor, Judge Malphrus served as an Assistant Solicitor under the Honorable Randolph Murdaugh, III, in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit. Thereafter, she entered the private practice of law with her brother and father, Joseph N. Malphrus and Joseph N. “Joey” Malphrus, Jr. When her father retired from the practice of law and her brother was elected Jasper County Probate Judge, Judge Malphrus joined the law firm of Moss, Kuhn & Fleming. She was the firm’s managing attorney for its Ridgeland office.
Judge Malphrus has always been active in her community. She served as a Trustee for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, where she is a member. She served as a member of the Jasper County Recreation Advisory Board, the Jasper County ad hoc committee studying alternative sentencing and jail overcrowding issues, and member of the Jasper County Gopher Hill festival committee. She has also served as a member of the board of directors for the Jasper County Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, and a member of the board of directors of Palmetto Electric Cooperative. Judge Malphrus was the youngest person to serve on the Palmetto Electric Cooperative board of directors and was also the youngest person and first female to serve as Chairman of the Board of Palmetto Electric Cooperative. In terms of her service to her legal community, Judge Malphrus has served as the secretary and treasurer for the Jasper County Bar Association, as a presenter and lecturer at legal-nurse consultant seminars, and as a presiding judge for the Ney National Mock Trial competitions held at Furman University. She views pro bono service to be part of the price one pays for practicing law, especially in a small community. She has given countless hours of pro bono service to those in need in Jasper County.
Judge Malphrus considers her three children, Brann, Sarabeth, and Andrew to be her greatest accomplishments. To be sure, she enjoys the salt waters and swamps of the low country, her marsh tacky horses, primitive camping, gardening, playing the piano, reading, and spending time at her mountain cabin. However, her greatest delight is simply being with those she loves.
On May 25, 2011, Judge Malphrus was elected by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina to the Family Court Bench.