United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
|United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island|
|Appeals to||First Circuit|
|Established||June 23, 1790|
|Chief Judge||William E. Smith|
The United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (in case citations, D.R.I.) is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is the state of Rhode Island. The District Court was created in 1790 when Rhode Island ratified the Constitution. The Federal Courthouse was built in 1908.
Appeals from the District of Rhode Island are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).
The United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current Interim United States Attorney is Stephen G. Dambruch since January 5, 2018.
The United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island was established on June 23, 1790 by 1 Stat. 128. Congress authorized one judgeship for the Court, and assigned the district to the Eastern Circuit. On February 13, 1801, the outgoing lame duck Federalist-controlled Congress passed the controversial Judiciary Act of 1801 which reassigned the District of Rhode Island to the First Circuit.
The incoming Congress repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801, but in the Judiciary Act of 1802, Congress again assigned the District of Rhode Island to the First Circuit.
A second seat on the Court was created on March 18, 1966 by 80 Stat. 75. A third seat was added on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333.
|#||Title||Judge||Duty station||Born||Term of service||Appointed by|
|22||Chief Judge||William E. Smith||Providence||1959||2002–present||2013–present||—||G.W. Bush|
|23||District Judge||John J. McConnell Jr.||Providence||1958||2011–present||—||—||Obama|
|19||Senior Judge||Ronald Rene Lagueux||inactive||1931||1986–2001||1992–1999||2001–present||Reagan|
|21||Senior Judge||Mary M. Lisi||inactive||1950||1994–2015||2006–2013||2015–present||Clinton|
Vacancies and pending nominations
|Seat||Seat last held by||Vacancy reason||Date of vacancy||Nominee||Date of nomination|
|1||Mary M. Lisi||Senior Status||October 1, 2015||Mary S. McElroy||April 12, 2018|
|#||Judge||State||Born–died||Active service||Chief Judge||Senior status||Appointed by||Reason for|
|2||Benjamin Bourne||RI||1755–1808||1796–1801||—||—||Washington||appointment to 1st Cir.|
|3||David Leonard Barnes||RI||1760–1812||1801–1812||—||—||Jefferson||death|
|6||Jonathan Russell Bullock||RI||1815–1899||1865–1869||—||—||Lincoln||resignation|
|7||John Power Knowles||RI||1808–1887||1869–1881||—||—||Grant||retirement|
|8||LeBaron B. Colt||RI||1846–1924||1881–1884||—||—||Garfield||appointment to 1st Cir.|
|9||George Moulton Carpenter||RI||1844–1896||1884–1896||—||—||Arthur||death|
|10||Arthur Lewis Brown||RI||1854–1928||1896–1927||—||—||Cleveland||retirement|
|11||Ira Lloyd Letts||RI||1889–1947||1927–1935||—||—||Coolidge||resignation|
|12||John Christopher Mahoney||RI||1882–1952||1935–1940||—||—||F. Roosevelt||appointment to 1st Cir.|
|13||John Patrick Hartigan||RI||1887–1968||1940–1951||—||—||F. Roosevelt||appointment to 1st Cir.|
|14||Edward L. Leahy||RI||1886–1953||1951–1953||—||—||Truman||death|
|15||Edward William Day||RI||1901–1985||1953–1976||1966–1971||1976–1985||Eisenhower||death|
|16||Raymond James Pettine||RI||1912–2003||1966–1982||1971–1982||1982–2003||L. Johnson||death|
|17||Francis Joseph Boyle||RI||1927–2006||1977–1992||1982–1992||1992–2006||Carter||death|
|18||Bruce M. Selya||RI||1934–present||1982–1986||—||—||Reagan||appointment to 1st Cir.|
|20||Ernest C. Torres||RI||1941–present||1987–2006||1999–2006||2006–2011||Reagan||retirement|
Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position.
When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.
Succession of seats
- West v. Barnes (1791), the first case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court
- Fricke v. Lynch (1980), case involving government gender limits on prom dates
- Lee v. Weisman (1992), case involving clergy-led prayer at public school graduation ceremonies
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 21, 1796, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 22, 1796, and received commission on December 22, 1796.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 6, 1802, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 26, 1802, and received commission on January 26, 1802.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 16, 1824, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 3, 1825, and received commission on January 3, 1825.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 6, 1869, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 24, 1870, and received commission on January 24, 1870.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 8, 1896, confirmed by the United States Senate on December 15, 1896, and received commission on December 15, 1896.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 6, 1927, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 4, 1928, and received commission on January 4, 1928.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 11, 1954, confirmed by the United States Senate on February 9, 1954, and received commission on February 9, 1954.