Raymond Lawrence Finch, a Federal District Court and contributor to the development of the Virgin Islands Legal System, was born on October 4, 1940 in Christiansted, St. Croix, to Wilfred Christopher Finch and Beryl Esther Bough Finch. His siblings were Gordon A. Finch, a former Commissioner of the V.I. Department of Public Works, J’Ada Mergeaux Finch Sheen, the territory’s first female Attorney General, and Dorrette Finch-Carter, a former director for the Office of Scientific Information for the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Raymond Finch was a product of the islands’ public schools and an outstanding tennis player, graduating in 1958 from Christiansted High School, now Saint Croix Central High School. After graduating, Finch enrolled in Howard University in Washington, DC, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics in 1962. He continued his studies at Howard, earning a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1965. Afterward, Finch returned to his native land and clerked with Municipal Court Judges Antonio L. Joseph and Alexander A. Farrell I, who later became governor of the V.I.
From 1966 to 1969, Finch served in the U.S. Army as a judge advocate, ranked First Lieutenant and Captain, respectively. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious achievement and service during the Vietnam War. After his honorable discharge in 1970, Finch was admitted to the Virgin Islands Bar and became a partner of the Crucian-based (indigenous attorneys) law firm of Hodge, Sheen, Finch & Ross in 1971. During this period, he was also Adjunct faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix campus.
In 1976, Finch was appointed to the Virgin Islands Municipal Court bench by Cyril King, the second elected Governor of the United States Virgin Islands. Finch served in that position until 1994. Finch’s first nomination to the District Court of the V.I. was by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Later U.S. President Bill Clinton appointed Finch as a Judge. Five years later, in 1999, Finch became the Chief Judge and was reappointed by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004. Finch was renominated judge by Bush and became a senior judge in 2008.
In 2014, Act No. 7626 was passed by the 30th V.I. Legislature naming the Supreme Court building in the historic district of Frederiksted in Finch’s honor. Three years later, in 2017, during the 100th anniversary of Denmark’s transfer of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John to the United States, a ceremony was held formally unveiling the name of the building, “The Raymond L. Finch Supreme Court Building.” The perma plaque copy of the Act was presented to Finch. He retired as a Senior Judge in the District Court of the Virgin Islands in 2018.
Raymond Finch was married to Anne-Marie Finch of Trinidad. However, he had three children, Faye Allison Finch, Mark Finch, and Jennifer Finch Jenkins, with Eleanor Hendricks Finch from a previous marriage.
The Honorable Raymond Lawrence Finch died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on February 23, 2023. He was 82.