South Carolina Supreme Court Justices

Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr.
Date Born: March 23, 1931

 Date Died: TBD

Place Born: Smithfield, VA

Place Buried: TBD


Chief Justice 1994 - 2000
Associate Justice 1985 - 1994

Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was born on March 23, 1931 in Smithfield, VA, the son of Dr. Ernest Adolphus Finney and Collen (Godwin) Finney, who died ten days after he was born. He earned a B.A. degree from Claflin College in 1952. He then enrolled in South Carolina State College's School of Law, from which he graduated in 1954. In the beginning, he was unable to find work as a lawyer, so he followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a teacher in Conway, SC for over five years. In 1960, he moved to Sumter, SC and began his full-time law practice, specializing in civil rights advocacy and defense.

In 1971, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was elected one of four men to represent Sumter County in the SC House of Representatives of the:
- 100th General Assembly that met from 1972 to 1974

With the House of Representatives completely re-apportioned in 1973, in 1974, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was elected to represent the 70th House District (part of Sumter County) in the SC House of Representives of the:
- 101st General Assembly that met from 1975 to 1976

On July 22, 1976, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was elected a Circuit Court Judge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit.

In 1985, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was elected as an Associate Justice on the SC Supreme Court, replacing Julius B. Ness, who had been elected Chief Justice.

On May 11, 1994, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was elected Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court, and was sworn in during December of 1994, replacing Chief Justice Archie Lee Chandler, who retired at that point in time. He served as Chief Justice until March 23, 2000, when he retired.

In 1998, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was inducted into the National Black College Hall of Fame, and he was awarded the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto in 1994.

In 2002, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. was named interim president of South Carolina State University. He stepped down on July 1, 2003.

During his many years of public service, Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. 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.

Honors conferred upon Ernest Adolphus Finney, Jr. 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.

As of 2015, he continues to practice law in The Finney Law Firm in Columbia, SC.

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