Luther J. Battiste, III, receives National Bar Association's Trial Master Award

DALLAS (July 29, 2020) —Luther J. Battiste, III, received the National Bar Association’s (NBA) Civil Trial Advocacy Trial Master Award at the association’s annual convention. Mr. Battiste, a founding shareholder of Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A., in Columbia, South Carolina, has been a member of the NBA for more than 40 years and is the National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

NBA President Alfreda Bennett Robinson thanked Mr. Battiste for his longtime commitment with the NBA, including serving as chair of the NBA Civil Trial Advocacy Section.  “For more than four decades Mr. Battiste has embodied the objectives of the National Bar Association by upholding the honor and integrity of the legal profession and passing along professionalism and expertise to the next generation of lawyers.”  She added that Mr. Battiste has worked to protect the civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the United States.

Mr. Battiste received the award — virtually — when he appeared by videoconference on July 25 during the Civil Trial Advocacy Master Class program.

“The Civil Trial Advocacy Trial Master Award is presented to exceptional NBA trial lawyers who have distinguished themselves as champions of justice and the American jury system,” said Vanita M. Banks, Chair of the NBA’s Civil Trial Advocacy section and NBA Past President.  “In addition to Luther Battiste’s extraordinary achievements, through a lifetime of dedication and service to his clients and the legal profession, he has demonstrated a relentless commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of trial lawyers.”

Mr. Battiste is the first African-American to serve as ABOTA National President. He also made history in 1983 by becoming one of the first two African-Americans elected to the Columbia City Council since Reconstruction. He served 15 years as a member of the Columbia City Council, including two terms as Mayor Pro Tempore. In 1998, the City of Columbia dedicated a monument and plaza in honor of his dedicated service as a public servant.

Accepting the award from his law office in Columbia, South Carolina, Mr. Battiste spoke about earning his law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta and choosing to return to his home state of South Carolina to contribute to the community that helped shape him. Mr. Battiste commented that he was influenced by iconic Howard University School of Law Dean Charles Hamilton Houston to be a “social engineer for change” in his home state.

Mr. Battiste referred to his mentor, the late U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry, who spurred social and educational integration and was appointed as the first African-American U.S. District Judge in South Carolina.

“I’m proud that Judge Perry was a distinguished member of the NBA,” Mr. Battiste said. “Judge Perry worked his entire life to try to produce change.  And as a lawyer, he was a fierce advocate for his clients.”

During the virtual NBA Convention, John E. Sweeney, a Los Angeles lawyer and an ABOTA National Board member, appeared by video to honor Mr. Battiste. Mr. Sweeney was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2017.

Mr. Battiste was admitted to ABOTA on January 29, 2000, and has served as a National Board Member since 2005. He served two terms as National Treasurer and has served as a chair or member on a number of committees and task forces. In 2011, he served as the President of the Southeastern Chapters of ABOTA, a regional organization representing 11 ABOTA chapters.

The NBA was founded in 1925 and is the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of more than 65,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, 9 divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and the world.

ABOTA is an invitation-only national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to civil jury trials. ABOTA’s primary goal is to educate the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury, and it is dedicated to elevating the standards of skill, integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession.