Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MAJOR RI judicial changes involving Zendran

This has happened since judge gitmo williams resigned and these judges
have personal connections to myself. Judge DeRobbio was a personal
friend of mine and was the Judge who defended me in Feb 2003 when I was
charged with pepper spraying that junkie on a bus where the state
overrulled his act to throw the charges against me out, and his schedule
was messed with in the last 5 years. Those around in 2007 should know
that keough was the one who made things difficult for me during my Trial
that year and was the one who recused himself from my case sending along
to Pfeiffer. Of more recent note is the appointee for the Superior
Court, George Muksian. George was my Public defender on april 21 and
was the one who got the reduced sentence, acknowledging that I could not
bail myself out and were the bail not a problem I would have won my
case. His office was also robbed of the evidence I gave him when we
planned my appeal on the same day there was a power outting at the
howard center and channel 10 on the day we went forward with my appeal,
and George and I both agreed that judge ippolito's demands for my appeal
that I be held without bail. This timing is more than coincidental.
All these news pieces were in the providence journal.
Peter Z


By W. Zachary Malinowski

Journal Staff Writer

District Court Chief Judge Albert E. DeRobbio, 79, called a workaholic
by peers, died yesterday at his home. DeRobbio served for 32 years on
the bench.


The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman
PROVIDENCE — District Court Chief Judge Albert E. DeRobbio Sr., a
commanding presence on the bench who never gave thought to retiring his
black robe, died yesterday morning at his home, in the Pawtuxet Village
section of Cranston.

He was 79 years old and had worked a full day on Friday.

“Describing him as a workaholic was an understatement,” said Superior
Court Presiding Justice Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. “I think Al used to get
upset that there were only 24 hours in a day.”

Word of DeRobbio’s death quickly spread through the courts and judicial
system yesterday morning and several longtime court workers said that
DeRobbio had told them that he would never retire and that they would
have to remove him from the bench in “a body bag.”

It also marked the second death in three days of a state court judge. On
Friday, Family Court Judge Gilbert T. Rocha passed away.

Yesterday, Governor Carcieri ordered all state flags lowered to
half-staff until DeRobbio and Rocha are laid to rest.

“The passing of Judge DeRobbio and Judge Rocha, both dedicated public
servants, is a great loss for the judicial community and the people of
Rhode Island,” said Carcieri. “Judge DeRobbio has left an indelible mark
on our state’s court system.”

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch called DeRobbio “a tremendous force
and presence in our justice system,” while Col. Brendan P. Doherty,
superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, characterized the chief
judge as “a giant,” who was always willing to help law enforcement.

Doherty recalled that, when he was a young state police detective,
DeRobbio was never bothered by a knock on his door at 1 a.m. to sign an
arrest warrant for a drug sweep or mob raid.

Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. described DeRobbio as
a “workaholic” who “really straightened out” the traffic court. “He’s a
real gentleman and a very knowledgeable guy,” he said. “He could quote
the law any time you needed it.

“Al was a personal friend of mine who got me started in Republican
politics” in Cranston in the early 1960s, Jeremiah said. “I will miss
him.”

DeRobbio, with 32 years on the bench, was the longest-serving state
court judge behind Rodgers, who has been a judge two years longer. Gov.
Philip W. Noel appointed DeRobbio to the District Court bench in 1976,
and two years later he was appointed to a seat on the Superior Court and
remained there for nine years.

DeRobbio never shied from using his high-profile appointment as a bully
pulpit.

In 1983, DeRobbio told an antinuclear activist that he had “spit” on the
U.S. Constitution by choosing to serve time in jail instead of paying $5
in restitution for participating in a demonstration outside the Electric
Boat plant at Quonset Point.

“I think you must know by now where my heart is,” declared the
protester.

DeRobbio interjected, “I want to know where your brain is.”

In 1987, Gov. Edward D. DiPrete appointed DeRobbio chief judge of the
District Court, replacing the late Henry E. Laliberte.

DeRobbio quickly made his mark as chief judge. In the early 1990s, he
consolidated much of the District Court system, shutting down small
courts in places such as Pawtucket, Cranston, Woonsocket and Warren. The
move, at the time, was controversial as police departments complained
that they had to transport prisoners to the Garrahy Judicial Complex, on
Dorrance Street in Providence.

Others, such as Judge Rodgers, supported the move because it made more
judges available in Providence to handle arraignments that might pop up
late in the afternoon.

A few years later, in the late ’90s, DeRobbio took over the troubled
Administrative Adjudication Court, otherwise known as the traffic court,
on Harris Avenue. At the time, the court was under siege over
uncollected fines, lengthy backlogs and allegations of ticket-fixing.
The record keeping was so woeful that the court’s computers listed $39
million in “uncollected” fines, but auditors could not determine whether
the $39 million represented unpaid tickets, or if some of the money was
stolen or lost.

DeRobbio seemed to relish the challenge of improving the traffic court
and its 80 employees, which nearly doubled the number of workers he
supervised as chief judge. Over eight years, DeRobbio professionalized
the traffic court and he was instrumental in converting the old
Administrative Adjudication Court next to a strip club to a sparkling
new Traffic Tribunal near the grounds of the Adult Correctional
Institutions, in Cranston.

Last year, the General Assembly removed the Traffic Tribunal from
DeRobbio’s jurisdiction and created the position of chief magistrate.
Legislators denied they were exacting revenge for DeRobbio’s failure to
pick magistrate candidates favored by Assembly leaders.

DeRobbio continued hearing a full caseload in his fourth-floor courtroom
in District Court, despite suffering from diabetes and worsening
eyesight. In recent years, he relied on a large magnifying glass to
review cases from the bench.

District Court Judge Michael A. Higgins will serve as acting chief judge
until a replacement is named for DeRobbio, who earned $181,121 a year.
The deaths of DeRobbio and Rocha leave six vacancies in the state
courts. Less than two weeks ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J.
Williams abruptly announced that he was stepping down after eight years.
And, earlier this month, Family Court Judge Howard I. Lipsey announced
he was retiring.

There are two other vacancies: another on the District Court following
Judge Walter Gorman’s announcement last March that he is retiring; and
last spring’s announcement that Superior Court Judge Vincent A. Ragosta
was stepping down.

Williams, the departing chief justice, said the deaths of Rocha and
DeRobbio “hit our justice system hard.”

“Both men were great leaders and hard workers, and shared our vision for
increasing access to justice and making our courts more user friendly,”
he said. “While they will be missed, they would be the first to insist
on the continuation of our justice system for the people.”

bmalinow@projo.com

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 30, 2008



Journal Staff

Keough
Joseph A. Keough has stepped down after 11 years as a special magistrate
on the Superior Court.

His retirement, effective Dec. 20, was confirmed yesterday by Rhode
Island chief court spokesman Craig Berke.

Paid an annual salary of $141,515 at the point he stepped down, Keough,
67, a former state representative, had been a magistrate since 1997.
Before that, he had been the chief judge of the Pawtucket Municipal
Court.

Berke said he did not know whether Keough’s position will be filled. The
appointment lies with Superior Court Presiding Justice Joseph F. Rodgers
Jr., subject to confirmation by the Senate, Berke said.

Magistrates are appointed to 10-year terms.

In just a matter of weeks, two judges retired and two died, expanding
the work of the Judicial Nominating Commission. (Superior Court
magistrates do not fall under that panel’s purview.)

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams and Family Court
Judge Howard I. Lipsey have announced their plans to retire this week.
Family Court Judge Gilbert T. Rocha, 77, died Dec. 19 after a brief
illness, and District Court Chief Judge Albert E. DeRobbio Sr., 79, died
three days later.

01:00 AM EST on Monday, December 29, 2008

By Katie Mulvaney

Journal Staff Writer

In just a matter of weeks, the workload of the panel that selects candidates for state judgeships grew –– significantly — with the retirement of two judges and the deaths of two others.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams and Family Court Judge Howard I. Lipsey have announced their plans to retire a week from tomorrow. Family Court Judge Gilbert T. Rocha, 77, died Dec. 19 after a brief illness, and District Court Chief Judge Albert E. DeRobbio Sr., 79, died three days later.

Now, the nine-member Judicial Nominating Commission must begin the task of selecting finalists for the lifetime posts. Coveted in the legal community, judgeships carry salaries upwards of $130,000 and generous pensions upon retirement.

Stephen J. Carlotti, chairman of the nominating commission, was surprised to learn of DeRobbio’s passing but was already preparing for busy months ahead.

“Oh boy,” he said, adding “We’ll just keep running along. The Judicial Nominating Commission is going to be perpetually in session until the merry month of May.”

He expected to begin publishing advertisements this week for candidates for the chief justice seat, with an application deadline of Jan. 30. The remaining positions will run on roughly parallel tracks, with each ad being displayed about 30 days, he said.

The commission must then pore over the 18-page applications returned and select which candidates to interview publicly. It has 90 days to present a list of finalists to the governor.

In addition, a single vacancy each remains on the District and Superior Court benches after retirements last spring. Those two seats await nominations from Governor Carcieri after the commission recommended finalists for the posts several months ago.

In July, the Judicial Nominating Commission recommended five candidates for the District Court opening created by the retirement of Judge Walter Gorman last March. They include Joseph A. DiPietro, J. Terence Houlihan Jr., Laura A. Pisaturo, Margaret M. Lynch-Gadaleta, and Paul D. Ragosta.

That same month, the commission chose five finalists for the Superior Court vacancy resulting from Judge Vincent A. Ragosta’s retirement in May. They include Fausto C. Anguilla, Stephen M. Isherwood, Henry S. Monti, George M. Muksian, and James V. Murray.

Under state law, the governor should have forwarded a nominee for Senate consideration in 21 days.

Asked about the delay, Carcieri spokeswoman Amy Kempe said: “Choosing a judge is a very thoughtful and considerable process. The governor is still reviewing the nominations put forth by the JNC, as well as the list of available individuals from other nomination lists.”

Under a law he pushed for, Carcieri may also choose from any list of court finalists generated over the previous five years.

kmulvane@projo.com

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