Contributed byChristian Flathman, senior director of Communications South University
South University has named former S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney Jr. as its 2007 commencement speaker on June 23, 2007 at 2 pm at the Koger Center.
Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr. served on the S.C. Supreme Court from 1985 until his retirement in 2000. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1994 making him the first African- American Chief Justice of S.C. Supreme Court. Following his retirement from the court, he served as Interim President of S.C. State University for the 2002- 2003 school year.
Prior to serving on the court, he was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives where he 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. He was later elected to a judgeship in South Carolina’s Third Circuit Court and became the State’s first African- American Circuit Court judge. He began his legal career in private practice in Sumter specializing in civil rights litigation where he defended more than 6,000 clients for participating in demonstrations and sit- ins.
Justice Finney is a member of the NAACP and the American Bar Association and was inducted into the National Black College Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the S.C. Order of the Palmetto. He holds numerous honorary degrees and received his B.A. from Claflin College and his J.D. from the South Carolina State University School of Law.