Richard Gergel

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Richard Mark Gergel
Richard M. Gergel.png
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
Assumed office
August 9, 2010
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byHenry Michael Herlong, Jr.
Personal details
Richard Mark Gergel

(1954-08-14) August 14, 1954 (age 64)
Columbia, South Carolina
Spouse(s)Belinda Gergel
EducationDuke University (B.A.)
Duke University School of Law (J.D.)

Richard Mark Gergel (born August 14, 1954) is a South Carolina lawyer and United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Gergel earned a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in 1975 and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law in 1979.[1][2] Gergel's cousin was well known industrial chemist Max Gergel, President/CEO of the Columbia Organic Chemical Company, or COCC.[3]

Professional career[edit]

From 1979 until 1980, Gergel served as a law clerk for a law firm in Columbia, South Carolina, and he was a partner with the firm from 1981 until 1982. Beginning in 1983, and continuing until his nomination to the district court, he was the president and partner with his own law firm (most recently known as Gergel, Nickles and Solomon) in Columbia. He has specialized in personal injury law.[3]

Notable case[edit]

Gergel was the attorney representing the South Carolina Education Association and public school teacher Maggi Hall when her First Amendment Rights were denied her by her Superintendent William Foil of Mullins SC. The case went to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond VA and was considered one of the most important First Amendment cases to come down from the 4th Circuit in over a decade.

The case, Hall vs. Marion School District 2, 31 F. 3d 183 (4th Cir. 1994) upheld the lower court's decision that Mullins District 2 acted illegally in firing Hall for exercising free speech in criticizing her superintendent and school board for reckless spending. Hall wrote her journey with the First Amendment, "AFFIRMED: Teachers as Citizens." AFFIRMED, appearing as a one word sentence, on a separate line, is the final word in an opinion wherein the appellate court upholds the decision of the lower.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On December 22, 2009, President Obama nominated Gergel to serve on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, to fill the seat vacated by Judge Henry Michael Herlong, Jr., who assumed senior status on June 1, 2009.[1][3][4] In his questionnaire to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Gergel wrote that South Carolina Democratic Congressmen John M. Spratt, Jr. and Jim Clyburn both previously had recommended Gergel to Obama as a district court nominee, and that South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also supported the nomination. Gergel had a hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on April 16, 2010. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 5, 2010,[5] and received commission on August 9, 2010.[3]

Trial of Dylann Roof[edit]

Richard Gergel was a presiding judge on the trial of Dylann Roof, who was convicted of 33 federal charges relating to the Charleston church shooting. Roof was convicted on all charges and controversially represented himself during the sentencing phase despite Gergel warning Roof it wasn't in his best interests to do so. On January 11, 2017 he sentenced Roof to death after the jury recommended the death penalty the previous day.


Gergel is the author of Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019) and, with Belinda Gergel, of In Pursuit of the Tree of Life: A History of the Early Jews of Columbia, South Carolina (1996).


  1. ^ a b President Obama Nominates Judge J. Michelle Childs, Richard Mark Gergel to District Court Bench for the District of South Carolina Archived 2010-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, (December 22, 2009).
  2. ^ "Richard Mark Gergel Biography – Gergel Nickles & Solomon Attorneys At Law". Archived from the original on 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  3. ^ a b c d "Gergel, Richard Mark – Federal Judicial Center".
  4. ^ Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 12/22/09, (December 22, 2009).
  5. ^ John Monk, Columbians confirmed as federal judges[permanent dead link], The State (August 7, 2010).

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Henry Michael Herlong, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina