Feb. 5, 2004 – Chief District Judge Raymond Finch has been nominated to a second 10-year term on the federal bench for the Virgin Islands by President Bush. He was first nominated to the District Court in 1994 by President Clinton.
Although Finch is a Democrat, he has a staunch Republican following. V.I. GOP National Committeeman Holland Redfield had glowing words for him upon learning of the renomination. "As a native Virgin Islander, Judge Finch has distinguished himself as a fair and sensitive member of the bench," Redfield said.
He also noted that Finch has been nominated by four Presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and now George W. Bush. The nominations by Carter and the elder Bush both fell by the wayside, in each case pending and thus rendered null when the chief executive left office.
Although Finch is currently chief judge for the V.I. district, the designation is one that rotates periodically between the two federal judges in the territory, and his renomination is as district judge.
The nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation. However, the popular local sentiment is that this will not be a problem.
Delegate Donna M. Christensen on Wednesday pledged her efforts to ensure that the renomination works it way smoothly through the Senate process. She said Finch is highly qualified and has the experience to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.
The 63-year-old Finch, a St. Croix native, was admitted to the V.I. Bar in 1972. He became a Territorial Court judge in 1976 and served there until being elevated to the federal bench.
Retired Judge Eileen Petersen, current chair of the Casino Control Commission, served in Territorial Court with Finch. She expressed delight as his renomination. "I felt, when he told me he had gotten a call, that he was really the best qualified for that position," she said. "Over the years, he has displayed the right temperament. He treats lawyers and litigants with respect and dignity … He has a very compassionate nature, and he is balanced."
Petersen continued: "He's just the right person. And here it is, Black History Month. Our youngsters can now say, 'Here is another hero, another one we can emulate.' I'm very pleased. And it's fitting with his background, a native son. It sends a signal to our young people that they can become judges, lawyers."
Attorney Andrew Capdeville recalled Finch's unique chambers while on the Territorial Court bench. "He's really a great all-around guy," Capdeville said. "One of the most impressive things when he was at Territorial Court that struck me was he had all this exercise equipment there — barbells, weight training things. He took care of himself."
"Other than that, my remarks will echo what others have said," Capdeville said. "Judge Finch is an excellent jurist; he is judge's judge. He is quite a brilliant man. I remember him as a bright lawyer, too. I'm very proud of him."
Finch, himself, expressed his pleasure in the nomination Thursday afternoon: "I am very pleased to have been nominated by the president of the United States. It is with great pride that I continue to serve the Virgin Islands people."
Finch mentioned that his sister, J'Ada Finch-Sheen, also has had a notable career in the judiciary, having served as attorney general in the second Juan F. Luis administration. "She was the first black female attorney general in the United States," he said. "Most people don't know that."
Asked about his exercise equipment, Finch laughed. "I've moved it downstairs" in the Almeric L. Christian Federal Building in Christiansted, he said. "The marshals have an exercise room, so I've consolidated it and moved it down there."
St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt, delegate at large to the American Bar Association House of Delegates and president in 2002-03 of the V.I. Bar Association, said: "I think he has served the Virgin Islands well. I commend the president on his renomination."
Joel Holt, who chairs the V.I. Bar Association Judiciary Committee, said the president made "an excellent decision" in renominating Finch. "He has been a great judge, and I'm sure he is as effective as anyone in that position could be."
Amos Carty, current V.I. Bar Association president, promptly returned a call seeking comment on Finch. "I am extremely pleased that the president appointed him to a second term," Carty said. "Judge Finch is well respected in the legal profession. Throughout the territory that is common knowledge. He has the temperament of a fine judge. I've always been impressed with his even-handedness, and I look forward to processes before him."
Upon being thanked for returning a reporter's call without delay, Carty replied: "Do you know where I am? I'm in the San Juan airport between flights. I just checked my messages, and I had to comment."
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