Public invited to memorial service for El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Terrence Finney | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Public invited to memorial service for El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Terrence Finney

Judge Terrence M. Finney thanks the board and staff of the El Dorado Community Foundation for the plaque he was presented honoring his years of service.
Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County Superior Court will hold a memorial service Friday, Jan. 4, for longtime Judge Terrence M. Finney, who died on Nov. 7 after a lengthy illness. He was 84.

Finney, according to El Dorado County Superior Court, was South Lake Tahoe’s first superior court judge. He was appointed to the newly created South Lake Tahoe branch in 1977 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

His appointment to the court came after years in the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office. In 1970, he was elected district attorney, during which time he successfully prosecuted several murder cases that serve as legal precedent under California law, according to the court.

He served as a judge for 20 years before retiring from his full-time position in 1997. He continued to sit on assignments as a visiting judge and as a private mediator and arbitrator.

As the court noted in a message posted on its website, Finney was highly regarded and respected, so much so that the Judicial Council of California formally recognized his many years of service on Aug. 22.

“Judge Finney was so respected and well liked, that many of the attorneys who practiced before him remained in contact with him throughout the years, attending his retirement, and visiting with him this year when they learned he was so ill,” according to the court.

The biggest case of his career, according to the court, was the Mono Lake case, to which he was assigned by the chief justice of the California Supreme Court.

In the 1980s, several environmental and outdoor groups filed suit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which had diverted four of the five streams that fed into Mono Lake.

The move was detrimental to the lake, its ecosystem, and resulted in the destruction of fish, bird and other wildlife habitat.

After several years, Finney ruled against the LADWP and mandated the diversions stop and the lake be returned to a healthy state. He spent a decade overseeing the process, ensuring the compliance and the ecological restoration.

LADWP appealed, but Finney’s ruling stood.

“Mono Lake’s status as a natural treasure has been preserved due to his courageous decision,” the court noted.

The community is invited to come out and remember Finney’s life on Friday, Jan. 4, from 2-5 p.m. in El Dorado County Superior Court Department 3, located in South Lake Tahoe.