United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Federal courthouse
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Boston at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.
Article III judges
|Judge Mary Lisi||1950||Providence, RI||Clinton||5/9/1994 - Present||2006 - 2013||Francis Boyle||Rhode Island U., 1972||Temple U. Law, 1977|
|Chief Judge William E. Smith||1959||Boise, ID||W. Bush||11/15/2002 - Present||2013 - Present||Ronald Lagueux||Georgetown U., 1982||Georgetown U. Law, 1987|
|Judge John J. McConnell, Jr.||1958||Providence, RI||Obama||5/4/2011 - Present||Ernest Torres||Brown, A.B., 1980||Case Western Reserve U. Law, J.D., 1983|
|Senior Judge Ronald Lagueux||Reagan||3/4/1986 - 11/30/2001||1992 - 1999||11/30/2001 - Present||Bowdoin College, 1953||Harvard Law, 1956|
|Magistrate Judge Lincoln Almond||9/10/2004-Present||University of Rhode Island (1985)||University of Connecticut School of Law (1988)|
|Magistrate Judge Robert Lovegreen||1993-Present||Brown University (1960)||University of Virginia Law School (1963)|
|Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan||10/01/2012-Present||Wellesley College, 1973||Georgetown University Law, 1978|
The District of Rhode Island has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
For a searchable list of opinions, please see District of Rhode Island official website and then navigate to Case Information -> Opinions.
| • High School prayer banner (2012)|
Judge(s):Ronald Lagueux (AHLQUIST vs. CRANSTON, 1-11CV0138L)
|Click for summary→|
|On January 11, 2012, Judge Lagueux issued his ruling in AHLQUIST vs. CRANSTON, deciding that a prayer banner that hung on the gym wall of a public high school violated the First Amendment. Lagueux ordered that the banner be removed within 10 days, barring an appeal from the school district. Lagueux felt that there was no way to construe the prayer as anything but Christian in nature. He defended this in his opinion, stating "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." He also lauded Jessica Ahlquist , the student who brought the suit, stating 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 school will determine if it will appeal the decision at an open meeting on February 16. The prayer reads:
"Our Heavenly Father,The author of the prayer has continued to express dismay at the ruling, telling the press, “It’s a shame that some judge with an appointment out of a Cracker Jack box can make a ruling like that."
| • Microsoft piracy case (2011)|
Judge(s):William E. Smith (Uniloc USA, Inc., et al v. Microsoft Corp., et al, 1:03-cv-00440-S-DLM)
|Click for summary→|
|On September 28, 2009, Judge Smith vacated a $388 million dollar verdict levied against software giant Microsoft on charges of patent infringement by an anti-piracy software maker. The judge vacated the verdict finding that the jury did not find a legally sufficient basis in reaching the it. Microsoft appealed the ruling to the First Circuit where the ruling was partially affirmed, denied and vacated.|
| • Nightclub fire case (2010)|
Judge(s):Ronald Lagueux (GRAY vs. DERDERIAN, 1-04CV0312L)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge Lagueux on January 7, 2010 approved a settlement of $176 million to family members of the victims of a night club fire that killed 100 people in Providence, Rhode Island in 2003. The fire was caused by a pyrotechnics display used in a rock concert. The pyrotechnics hit the soundproof foam which led to a fire resulting in 100 deaths. The settlement ended nearly seven years of litigation in the case in which the club's owners pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in 2006.|
| • Survivor case (2009)|
Judge(s):William E. Smith (Hatch v. USA, 1:2009-cv-00144)
|Click for summary→|
|On July 10, 2009, Judge Smith ruled that the first winner from the TV program "Survivor," Richard Hatch, could not leave home confinement early to star in a 10th anniversary edition of the reality show in Samoa. Hatch was convicted by the District of Rhode Island in 2006 on tax evasion on the $1 million he won on the debut season of the reality show. Hatch served three years in federal prison and served the final 90 days of his sentence on home confinement in Rhode Island.|
The District of Rhode Island was established by Congress on June 23, 1790 with one post to cover the entire state. Over time two additional judicial posts were added for a total of three current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Rhode Island:
|June 23, 1790||1 Stat. 128||1|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||2|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||3|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, 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 in the office of chief judge 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. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information about the judges of the District of Rhode Island, see former federal judges of the District of Rhode Island.
The court meets in what was originally the Providence Post Office, Court House and Custom House, now called the U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse, in Providence, Rhode Island. The building was constructed between 1904-08 in the Beaux Arts style of architecture popular, at the time, for public buildings of similar nature.
The building was originally designed to house a post office, a customs offices, and the federal courts. It now houses only the courts.
- News: McConnell confirmed to District of Rhode Island, May 5, 2011
- United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island Official Website
- United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Official Website
- Bankruptcy court for the District of Rhode Island
- Opinions of the District of Rhode Island
- Contacts for the District of Rhode Island
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Stonington Mystic-Patch, "Judge Orders Prayer Banner Written By Stonington Man Removed" 1/13/2012
- Catholic Online, "Atheist teen stands behind her position after school prayer banner taken down," January 30, 2012
- First Circuit Court of Appeals, "UNILOC USA, INC v. MICROSOFT CORP.," January 4, 2011
- The Boston Globe, "RI judge OKs $176M settlement in deadly club fire," January 7, 2010
- Associated Press, "Judge: Hatch can't travel for latest 'Survivor'", July 12, 2009
- History of the District of Rhode Island from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- District of Rhode Island, Official Brief History of the Court
Lincoln Almond • Robert Lovegreen • Patricia A. Sullivan •
|Former Article III judges||
|Former Chief judges|