Franklin D. Cleckley


Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (1995)
Indiana University Bloomington
J.D. 1965


Franklin D. Cleckley, J. D.' 65, is the first African-American to be a full professor at West Virginia University and appointed Justice for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals by Gov. Gaston Caperton of West Virginia in 1994. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he taught law for 25 years at the West Virginia University College of Law and was named its Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law in 1985. He left the bench in 1996, returning to teach at WVU until his retirement in 2013. He is also known for writing the Handbook on Evidence for West Virginia Lawyers and his Handbook on West Virginia Criminal Procedure, which have become leading authorities on their subjects in his state. Cleckley holds degrees from Anderson College, Indiana University, and Harvard University.

In his honor, the non-profit Franklin D. Cleckley Foundation Inc. bears his name. Cleckley is actively involved in the organization, which assists in the rehabilitation of ex-convicts. While serving in the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps during the Vietnam War, Cleckley was recognized by the Defense Department as the "most sought defense counsel" in the Vietnam theater. He is a recipient of the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal. In 1987, Cleckley was awarded the NAACP's W Robert Ming Advocacy Award for commitment to the cause of civil rights. He is the only lawyer in West Virginia to earn the Public Service Award from all of the state's major bar associations. Cleckley was inducted into the Academy of Law Alumni Fellows in 1995.