CHARLESTON, S.C.,(Mar. 9)--The Hon. Ernest A. Finney Jr., chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, will receive an honorary degree from The Citadel at 11 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 18, during a ceremony at The Citadel dress parade on Summerall Field. The honorary degree is being presented during Corps Day Weekend, which marks the 152nd anniversary of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets.
Finney will be awarded an honorary degree of doctor of laws from the military college. He has served the public as an attorney, a teacher, a circuit judge, an advocate and an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Finney was elected chief justice of the state's highest court in May 1994 and assumed office in December 1994. He is the first black chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since Reconstruction.
Finney was born Mar. 23, 1931, in Smithfield, Va. He was graduated cum laude from Claflin College with a bachelor arts degree in 1952. He earned a juris doctoral degree from South Carolina State University School of Law in 1954 and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar that same year. Finney pursued advanced studies at the National College of State Trial Judges in Reno, Nev., and the Senior Appellate Judges Seminar at New York University School of Law.
In 1954, Finney launched his career as a part-time lawyer and school teacher. He practiced law full time from 1955 until 1976 and also served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1972-1976. He was elected circuit judge in 1976 and elected associate justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1985.
Finney has served in numerous civic and professional organizations and is currently a member of bar associations on the local, state and national levels. He is chairman of the board of directors of Buena Vista Development Corporation and chairman of the board of trustees of Claflin College. He is a member of the University of South Carolina School of Law Minority Advisory Committee and the United Methodist Church's General Council on Finance and Administration and Legal Responsibilities Committee. Finney is a life member of the NAACP and affiliated with Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the Masons and the Shriners.
He was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame in
1988 and was selected a Portrait Honoree by the South Carolina Trial Lawyers
Association in 1992. Finney was named "Distinguished Alumnus of the Year" from
Claflin College and South Carolina State University by the National Association
for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In 1994, WIS Television and Southern Bell jointly recognized Finney as a distinguished South Carolinian and
selected him for inclusion in the 1995 South Carolina African-American History