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|Current Court Information:|
|District of Rhode Island|
|Appointed by:||Ronald Reagan|
|Active:||3/4/1986 - 11/30/2001|
|Chief:||1992 - 1999|
|Senior:||11/30/2001 - Present|
|Preceded by:||98 Stat. 333|
|Succeeded by:||William E. Smith|
|Past post:||Rhode Island Supreme Court|
|Home State:||Lewiston, ME|
|Undergraduate:||Bowdoin College, 1953|
|Law School:||Harvard Law, 1956|
Early life and education
District of Rhode Island
Lageux was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on January 21, 1986 to a new seat created by 98 Stat. 333 which was approved by Congress. Lageux was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 3, 1986 and received commission on March 4, 1986. Lagueux served as the chief judge of the court from 1992 to 1999 before later assuming senior status on November 30, 2001. He was succeeded to this post by William E. Smith.
*Mark Ahlquist, as next friend, parent and guardian, of Jessica Ahlquist, a minor, v. City of Cranstron, et al. 1-11cv0138L
On January 11, 2012 Judge Lagueux issued his ruling in Ahlquist v. City of Cranston, deciding that a prayer banner that hung on the gym wall of a public high school since 1963 violated the First Amendment. Lagueux ordered that the banner be removed within 10 days, barring an appeal from the school district. The judge's position was that there was no reasonable way to construe the prayer as anything but Christian in nature.
In his opinion, he wrote that
|“||The prayer concludes with the indisputably religious closing: 'Amen;' a Hebrew word used by Jews, Christians and Muslims to conclude prayers. In between, the Prayer espouses values of honesty, kindness, friendship and sportsmanship. While these goals are commendable, the reliance on God’s intervention as the way to achieve those goals is not consistent with a secular purpose.||”|
Judge Lagueux also lauded Jessica Ahlquist , the student who brought the suit, commenting that she "is clearly an articulate and courageous young woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in the light of the hostile response she has received from the community."The author of the prayer expressed dismay at the ruling, saying, “It’s a shame that some judge with an appointment out of a Cracker Jack box can make a ruling like that." On February 16, 2012, the Cranston School Committee, on a 5-2 vote, decided not to appeal Judge Legueux' ruling. The banner was removed, in March, and the school and city agreed to pay the Rhode Island ACLU $150,000 in legal fees.
The banner read as follows:
"Our Heavenly Father,
Grant us each day the desire to do our best,
To grow mentally and morally as well as physically,
To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers,
To be honest with ourselves as well as with others,
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,
Teach us the value of true friendship,
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.
The Station nightclub fire case (2010)
*Albert L. Gray, Administrator, et al., v. Jeffrey Derderian, et al. e 1:04-cv-00312-L-DLM
Judge Lagueux presided over a case for damages brought after one of the worst fires in United States history. On Thursday, February 20, 2003, at The Station, a rock and roll themed nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a fire was ignited by a rock band's pyrotechnic display and went on to consume the nightclub. The pyrotechnics hit soundproof foam on the ceiling, which was flammable and exponentially accelerated the fire. Afterwards, 100 people had burned to death, and over 200 were injured; about 130 people escaped unharmed. The fire was the deadliest nightclub fire in the United States in 25 years, and one of the worst in the history of the country.
Families of victims and other parties filed criminal and civil suits, alleging causes against the nightclub owners and the tour manager of the band who set off the pyrotechnics. In addition, numerous companies with products bearing some relation to the incident were sued, including the company that makes the soundproofing foam which accelerated the fire, a TV station who's video journalist allegedly obstructed escape routes, JBL Speakers--the company that provided the sound equipment, Anheuser-Busch, and others.
On February 6, 2007, Judge Lagueux denied motions to dismiss filed by Polar Industries, Inc., (insulation company) and Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. Although the litigation continued for years, there was never a trial.
On January 7, 2010, Judge Lagueux approved a settlement of $176 million to the plaintiff family members of the victims. All defendants participated in the agreement, and contributed some part of the total damages awarded to the plaintiffs.
In separate criminal cases, the band manager plead guilty, and commented that he was eager to resolve the situation, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with 11 suspended, and 3 years probation. The brothers who owned the club plead no contest, also foreclosing the possibility of a trial, and one received the same sentence as the band manager, while another received a 10-year suspended sentence, probation, and community service.
Many involved in the case, including family members of victims and members of the local community, questioned why the chief fire inspector of the town at the time of the fire, Denis Larocque, was never indicted. Larocque had inspected the nightclub in the years before the fire, and did not cite the club for installing highly flammable materials on their walls and ceilings; additionally, beginning in 1999, he increased the club's legal capacity from 258 persons to 404.Judge Lagueux' order approving the settlement is available here.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Judge Lagueux's Biography from the Federal Judicial Center
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Stonington Mystic-Patch, "Judge orders prayer banner written by Stonington man removed," January 13, 2012
- ↑ Fox News, "Rhode Island public school committee votes not to appeal prayer banner case," February 17, 2012
- ↑ The Providence Journal, "Cranston agrees to pay ACLU $150,000 in legal fees, ending prayer-banner fight," March 6, 2012
- ↑ Catholic Online, "Atheist teen stands behind her position after school prayer banner taken down" 1/30/2012
- ↑ The New York Times, "Fire in a Nightclub: Overview; 96 dead in fire ignited by band at Rhode Island club,"
- ↑ The Providence Journal, "Special Report: The Station fire, timeline of a tragedy," February 6, 2013
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Providence Journal, "Years in litigation, millions in settlement but never a trial," February 12, 2013
- ↑ Law.com, "$176 million settlement OK'd in deadly R.I.nightclub fire," January 8, 2010
- ↑ The Boston Globe, "Questions still linger over fire inspector's role," February 17, 2013
|Federal judicial offices|
|District of Rhode Island
William E. Smith
Ronald Lagueux •
|Magistrate judges||Lincoln Almond • Robert Lovegreen • Patricia A. Sullivan •|
|Former Article III judges||
Ernest Torres • Bruce Marshall Selya • Benjamin Bourne • Henry Marchant • David Leonard Barnes • David Howell • John Pitman • Jonathan Russell Bullock • John Power Knowles • LeBaron Bradford Colt • George Moulton Carpenter • Arthur Lewis Brown • Ira Lloyd Letts • John Christopher Mahoney • Francis Boyle • Edward Day • John Patrick Hartigan • Edward Leahy • Raymond Pettine •
|Former Chief judges|