Courtroom 2B at the Richland County Judicial Center has a new name that remembers the service of a 22-year employee who is loved by many.
At a dedication ceremony held Monday afternoon, a large audience of elected officials, judges, law clerks and attorneys crowded into the courtroom, located at 1701 Main St., to celebrate its renaming as the Ada Harper James Courtroom. James, 85, was surrounded by friends and family as several people spoke about her 22-year tenure as an administrative assistant to Circuit Court Judge L. Casey Manning before she recently retired.
“You can see by the number of people here today just how much she means to everyone who worked with her and got to know her,” Manning said.
Originally from Jenkinsville, S.C., James has a lengthy career that spans public service, business and education roles. During her time as a federal employee, she received many local and regional awards and certificates, including the Small Business Administration National Non-Technical Employee of the Year Award that was presented to her in Washington, D.C.
After retiring from the Small Business Administration, James came to work as an administrative assistant for Manning at the Richland County Judicial Center, in what she thought would be a short-term employment.
“I’d like to thank Judge Manning and . . . the law clerks who accepted me as I was on that first day all those years ago,” James said. “I looked forward to each day with anticipation.”
Richland County Councilman Seth Rose, District 5, led the effort to have the courtroom renamed to remember James’ legacy. During the ceremony, Rose read aloud a proclamation on behalf of Richland County Council.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Ms. James recognized for her decades of service to the citizens of Richland County and the judicial system,” he said. “County Council wanted to recognize her in this historic way. She is beloved by many and this recognition is well deserved.”
Other speakers during the ceremony were attorney I.S. Leevy Johnson, Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin and several of James’ family members. A portrait of James was unveiled on the courtroom wall, beneath her name in gold letters.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this moment today, for Ms. Ada James, is worth a thousand pictures,” Manning said.