Judge James Braxton Craven, Jr. was born in Lenoir, North Carolina on April 3, 1918. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University in 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts. Judge Craven attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1942. After military service in World War II, he was admitted to the North Carolina Bar and entered private practice in Morganton, North Carolina.
He served as prosecuting attorney in Burke County Criminal Court in 1947. From 1948 to 1952, he was assistant United States District Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Governor Luther H. Hodges appointed Judge Craven to the North Carolina Superior Court in 1956. In 1961, President Kennedy named him United States District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina. Upon appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, Judge Craven served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit until his death on May 3, 1977.
In honor of Judge Craven's great contributions to American jurisprudence and the legal profession, and his great compassion for his fellow man, the Holderness Moot Court started and proudly dedicated this moot court invitational competition in 1977 to the memory of Judge James J. Braxton Craven, Jr.