Former Supreme Court Justice Ernest Finney Jr. has passed away at the age of 86.
Few details surrounding Finney’s death and any arrangements are not known at this time.
WLTX-TV reports that Finney is considered a legend in South Carolina’s civil rights movement, having been one of the top civil rights lawyers in the state during the 1960s. Arguably his most notable case involved a group of African-Americans known as the “Friendship 9,” who staged a sit-in at a lunch counter in Rock Hill, SC and were arrested and sentenced to jail. A judge officially overturned those convictions in 2015.
In the 1970s, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, and later became the state’s first African-American circuit court judge.
Finney was appointed to the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1985, and became the first African-American chief justice in 1994. He retired from the high court in 2002.
He also briefly served as interim president of South Carolina State University. He also was counsel at the Finney Law Firm in Columbia.