J. Bratton Davis graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1940. His graduate work at the Harvard Law School was interrupted by World War II in 1941 when he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy, serving principally in the South Pacific theater of operations. After returning from the service, he practiced with the law firm of Bratton, Davis, and Suber until 1969 when he was appointed Referee in Bankruptcy for the District of South Carolina. In 1978, he was made a bankruptcy judge. He later became Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina, and he served in that capacity until 2000.
Columbia’s Federal Bankruptcy Courthouse in now named in Judge Davis’ honor. In 1962, he managed Donald Russell’s successful campaign for governor and served as chair of the Donald Russell Gubernatorial Inauguration Committee. Judge Davis was also a member of the board of directors for the Byrnes Foundation and the James F. Byrnes Centennial Committee. He was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 2000, and when he retired on September 23, 2000, the S.C. Bankruptcy Law Association endowed a scholarship at the USC School of Law that is awarded annually to students interested in bankruptcy law. The S.C. Bankruptcy Law Association also created the J. Bratton Davis Professional Award in his honor.
Judge Davis is survived by his wife, Margaret; daughter, Jean Bruton; and two sons, Sherwood McKissick Cleveland and William Choice Cleveland.