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Retired Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney Jr., of Counsel
Ernest A. Finney Jr. was born on March 23, 1931, in Smithfield, Virginia.
He graduated from Claflin College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in
1952. In 1954, Judge Finney graduated from The South Carolina State
University School of Law with a Juris Doctoral Degree, and was admitted to
the South Carolina Bar that same year. After graduating, he taught school
in the public schools of Conway for five years. In 1960, he and his family
moved to Sumter, where he began his law practice, specializing in civil
rights advocacy and defense.
Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972, Judge
Finney became the first African American to serve on the House Judiciary
Committee in modern time. He was one of the Founders of the Legislative
Black Caucus and served as its charter Chairman from 1973 to 1975. When
he was elected to a judgeship in South Carolina's Third Circuit Court on
July 22, 1976, Judge Finney became the State's first African-American
Circuit Court judge. He was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court
in 1985; and on May 11, 1994, he became the Chief Justice of the South
Carolina Supreme Court, a position he held with distinction until his
retirement from the bench on March 23, 2000.
During his many years of public service, Judge Finney has been a member of
the American Law Institute, the American Judges Association, the
Conference of Chief Justices, the American and National Bar Associations,
the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the NAACP, and the Graduate
National College of State Trial Judges, to name a few. Also, he has served
as chairman of both the Board of Directors of Buena Vista Development
Corporation and the Board of Trustees of Claflin University. Most recently,
Judge Finney served one year as the Interim President of South Carolina
State University, stepping down July 1, 2003.
Honors conferred upon Judge Finney include the Honorary Doctor of
Humanities degree from Claflin University; the Honorary Doctor of Laws
degree from The Citadel, Johnson C. Smith Universities, and Morris College;
the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the College of
Charleston and South Carolina State University; as well as Honorary
Doctorates from Wofford College, Francis Marion University, and the
University of South Carolina. In 1998, he was inducted into the National
Black College Hall of Fame, and he was awarded the South Carolina Order
of the Palmetto in 1994.
Jerry Leo Finney Sr., Attorney At Law
Ernest A. Finney Jr., Of Counsel
Stephanie R. Fajardo, Attorney At Law