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Judge Raymond L. Finch Remembered For “Dedicated” Public Service, Love of V.I. Community

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Raymond L. Finch helps celebrate the renaming of the V.I. Superior Courthouse in Frederiksted in his honor in 2017. (Photo courtesy of the V.I. Bar Association)

The news of the passing of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Raymond L. Finch Thursday was met with an outpouring of love from every corner of the community, with dignitaries praising him as a “dedicated public servant” and “bastion of justice.” He was 82 years old.

Born on St. Croix in 1940, Finch graduated from Christiansted High School in 1958 before moving on to Howard University to earn a bachelor’s in political science and a law degree in 1965. Among his many accolades, he served as a law clerk to former Gov. Alexander Farrelly, and as a judge advocate in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star.

He worked in private practice after being admitted to the V.I. Bar in 1970 and was later appointed by former Gov. Cyril E. King as a V.I. Superior Court judge in 1976, serving until 1994. The court building in Frederiksted, St. Croix, was named in his honor in 2017.

He moved on to the federal District Court following his appointment by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, then was reappointed to serve as chief judge by former President George W. Bush. 

“Although we mourn his passing, I am grateful for the tremendous example set by Judge Finch. He was a true public servant, dedicated to the good of our home, as evidenced by his service on numerous professional and community associations, including the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, and as a member of the boards of the Boys and Girls Club and Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands,” Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett said Friday. 

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. also noted that in his roles, Finch served the “people of the territory fairly and prudently for decades.”

“A native Crucian, Judge Finch served for six years as the chief judge of the U.S. District Court and set an eminent example as an honorable and impartial arbiter of the law. His service for the betterment of our community and its people will not be forgotten,” the governor said.

In a statement, Sen. Kenneth L. Gittens showed the personal side of Finch, calling him stern but still soft-spoken, “even in his most passionate moments.”

“In his decades as an attorney and a judge, he has sat at both the table and on the bench, carrying out his duties with professionalism. His courtroom was always a classroom for law and civics with dozens of teachable moments. He was candid, poised, fair, and a true pillar of this community,” Gittens said.

Indeed, his balance and fairness will remain an indelible part of his legacy, Senate President Novelle Francis added in a separate statement. 

“His courtroom was a master class in civics and the law. I remember when he sent the District Court marshals to collect people who had not reported for jury duty. While it was amusing at the time, it also showed his firm commitment to ensure that every person in his court would have the same access to a jury of their peers. I will remember Judge Finch as someone who was a good listener, fair, and a role model to many,” Francis said. “He leaves a memorable legacy behind, and the Virgin Islands is a better place because of him.”

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