A native of Smithfield, Va, Ernest A. Finney Jr. gained respect as an exceptional civil rights advocate, defending more than 6,000 people arrested for participating in some type of civil protest. In 1973 he helped create the Legislative Black Caucus, which he chaired from 1973-1975.
In December 1994 he became a South Carolina Chief Justice. Only one other African-American, Jasper Wright, has served on the state Supreme Court (during Reconstruction). Chief Justice Finney retired in 2000.