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Reed, Whitehouse seeking diverse, qualified candidate for court seat

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(The Center Square) – A new process for ensuring highly qualified applicants are sought to fill a Rhode Island court seat is being pitched by a pair of federal elected officials.

Judge William E. Smith is set to achieve senior status on Jan. 1, 2025, prompting U.S. Democratic U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse to propose a merit-based process aimed at identifying a diverse, highly qualified group of candidates to replace Smith on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Smith continues to hear cases on a limited basis, according to a release. Smith has served on the court since 2022. He earned his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate from Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center.

With the vacancy that will be created as Judge Smith takes on senior status, President Joe Biden is able to nominate a federal district judge as a replacement, according to a release. However, it is customary for the president to ask senators for recommendations for appointments. The new judge must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Reed and Whitehouse, according to a release, are seeking candidates who possess a wide range of experience and perspective and who would be able to serve with integrity, distinction, and professionalism.

The qualifications the federal legislators are seeking include 12 years of legal experience, outstanding legal ability, a demonstration of a strong commitment to equal justice, and an understanding that the confirmation process is lengthy.

The federal trial court hears criminal and civil cases, and is currently comprised of Chief Judge John J. McConnell Jr., Judge Mary S. McElroy, Judge Smith, and magistrate judges Lincoln D. Almond and Patricia A. Sullivan.

Interested candidates are to send a cover letter and resume to Sen. Reed’s office at 1000 Chapel View Boulevard, Suite 290, Cranston, RI 02920 or email district.court@reed.senate.gov by July 28.

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