Tag: Law / Legal Pioneers

Chief Justice Samuel Ames

 Ames, Samuel, 1806-1865 Chief Justice Samuel Ames (1806-1865) of Providence served in many public capacities including state legislator, speaker of the house, and quartermaster general of the state militia. His most significant service was as chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court (1856-1865).   Ames studied at Phillips-Andover Academy and graduated from Brown University in

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Joseph K. Angell

Angell, Joseph K. (Joseph Kinnicut), 1794-1857 Joseph K. Angell (1794-1857) of Providence was one of America’s foremost legal scholars of his era.  Most of his many legal treatises dealt with changes in the law occasioned by the transformation of the American economy from a commercial to an industrial base, and he was the nation’s leading

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Chief Justice Charles Smith Bradley

  Bradley, C. S. (Charles Smith), 1819-1888 Charles Smith Bradley (1819-1888), was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  He graduated first in his class at Brown University in 1838, then obtained a master’s degree from Brown and, eventually, a law degree from Harvard.  He commenced the practice of law in Providence in 1841 and became known as

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Justice Walter Snow Burges

  Burges, Walter S. (Walter Snow), 1808-1892 Justice Walter Snow Burges (1808-1892) was a native of Rochester, Massachusetts.  His uncle, Congressman Tristam Burges, a former chief justice, oriented Walter toward Rhode Island and Brown University, where Tristam was a professor of oratory. Walter Burges graduated from Brown with honors in 1831, and then taught school

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Tristam Burges

Tristam Burges, 1770-1853, was chief justice, leading member of the bar, U.S. Congressman (1825-1835), leader of the Whig Party and professor of oratory at Brown University. After a distinguished career in law, politics, and education, Burges retired to his estate “Watchemoket Farm,” then in Seekonk, Massachusetts, but since 1862 within the bounds of East Providence.

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Justice Antonio Caposto

Justice Antonio Capotosto, 1879-1962, Harvard-educated lawyer and first Italian-American member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, assistant attorney general, Superior and Supreme Court justice, founder and first president of the Aurora Club.

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Dr. Charles Carroll

    Carroll, Charles, 1876-1936 Dr. Charles Carroll, Rhode Island’s foremost historian of his era, was born in Providence to newspaper printer William Carroll and Mary (Sheehan) Carroll. He was educated in the Providence public schools and at Brown University where he excelled in mathematics, edited the Brown Daily Herald, captained the debate team, and served as

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Arthur A. Coia Esq.

Arthur A. Coia was born on March 21,1943 in the Italian section of Charles Street, Providence, Rhode Island graduating from LaSalle Academy, Providence College, and Boston University Law School. He is a founding partner with over 40 years of experience in the New England-based law firm of Coia and Lepore, LTD. specializing in labor law, labor

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LeBaron Bradford Colt

LeBaron Bradford Colt was born in Dedham, Massachusetts to Christopher and Theodora (DeWolf) Colt. He and his equally famous brother, Samuel, had very influential forebears. On their maternal side, they were the grandsons of General George DeWolf of Bristol and the grandnephews of U.S. Senator James DeWolf, a wealthy merchant and notorious slave trader. Other

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Samuel Pomeroy Colt

Samuel Pomeroy Colt, a brother of U.S. Senator LeBaron Colt, shared his sibling’s impressive lineage. Born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1852 as the youngest of six children, he received his early education in Hartford, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1873, and from Columbia Law School in 1876. Samuel (or “Pom” as

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Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr

Judge Frank Darigan was born on September 21, 1942 to a South Providence Irish-Catholic family. He never severed his roots. Of the many Hall of Fame inductees from Providence’s South Side, Frank’s nearly six decades of volunteer social service to his neighborhood is unmatched by any of these honorees. Darigan served as a judge of

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Gov. Christopher Del Sesto

  Christopher Del Sesto was a loyal and dedicated public servant throughout his adult life.  Born in Providence on March 10, 1907 to Eraclio and Rosa (Geremia) Del Sesto, he graduated with honors from Providence’s Commercial High School and with cum laude honors from both Boston University and Georgetown University Law School. For many years he

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Judge Luigi DePasquale

Judge Luigi DePasquale 1892-1958, exemplifies the rapid political, social, and economic rise of Rhode Island’s first generation Italian-Americans. Born on December 13, 1892 in Providence to Italian immigrant parents, Antonio and Maria (Vitale) DePasquale, Luigi was raised in Milford, Massachusetts, where his father became an undertaker. He graduated from Boston University Law School in 1913

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Joseph R. DiStefano Esq.

Cities and states do not progress and prosper randomly.  To thrive, they need leaders whose creative vision is matched by the drive, energy, and diplomatic skills that can draw together diverse people and disparate factions into a common – and ultimately successful – undertaking.  Such a leader is Joseph R. DiStefano. Born in Providence on

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Chief Justice Thomas Durfee

Durfee, Thomas, 1826-1901 Thomas Durfee was the eldest son of Job Durfee, who was chief justice of Rhode Island from 1828 to 1849, was marked from the outset for a career in law. His mother was Judith Borden, member of a prominent Fall River Family. Thomas completed his preparatory education at the East Greenwich Academy

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Amasa Eaton

  Eaton, Amasa M. (Amasa Mason), 1841-1914   Amasa Eaton  was a prominent Providence attorney who might be described as the quintessential Progressive reformer. His distinguished lineage included Providence’s Brown family and the Herreshoffs of Bristol.    He was an outspoken advocate of home rule for Providence and a member of the Metropolitan Park Commission, the

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William H. Edwards

William H. Edwards, 1898-1976, was head of Edwards and Angell, the prestigious Providence law firm. He was active in numerous civic groups, and focused his energy especially on the needs of minority groups and the elderly.

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William Ellery

William Ellery (1727–1820), merchant, congressman, chief justice, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the son of prominent Newport merchant William Ellery and Elizabeth Almy. His well-to-do father sent him to Harvard, from which young William graduated in 1747. He then embarked on a mercantile career, but when his father’s death in 1764 left

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Chief Justice Edmund W. Flynn

Chief Justice Edmund W. Flynn, 1890-1957, Rhode Island’s longest-serving chief justice, graduate of Georgetown Law School, state representative from South Providence, legal scholar, architect of the “Bloodless Revolution,” and a draftsman of the two most recent digests of Rhode Island’s general laws (1938 and 1956). After graduation from Holy Cross College and Georgetown Law School,

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Chief Judge Edward P. Gallogly

Edward Peter Gallogly enjoyed a career that saw him occupy many seats onthe public stage. He is one of the few Rhode Island citizens who served inall three branches of state government as well as an arm of the Federalgovernment. Gallogly was born in Providence on August 28, 1919 one of nine children ofLawrence and

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Charles E. Gorman

Gorman, Charles Edmund, 1844-1917 Charles E. Gorman was Rhode Island’s foremost constitutional reformer of the late 19th century. He was born in Boston in 1844 to an Irish immigrant father for whom he was named and a Yankee mother, Sarah Woodbury, who traced her Massachusetts ancestry to the Cape Ann colony of the early 1620s.

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Judge David Howell

Howell, David, 1747-1824 David Howell had a distinguished legal and academic career that extended from the Confederation Era through the Early National Period. He was born in Morristown, New Jersey, on January 1, 1747, the son of Aaron and Sarah Howell. He received his early education at Hopewell Academy in Hopewell, New Jersey, a Baptist

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Congressman Thomas Allen Jenckes

Jenckes, Thomas A. (Thomas Allen), 1818-1875 Congressman Thomas Allen Jenckes (1818-1875) is regarded nationally as “the father of civil service reform.” He was born in Cumberland, was educated in the public schools of that town, and graduated from Brown University in 1838 where he distinguished himself in mathematics and the physical sciences. Jenckes studied law

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U.S. Rep. Ambrose Kennedy

U.S. Rep. Ambrose Kennedy, 1875-1967, Congressman Ambrose Kennedy was a rarity in early twentieth century Rhode Island politics–a devout Irish Catholic Republican politician of high standing. Kennedy was not only a five-term Republican congressman, he was a lawyer, an educator, an accomplished orator, speaker of the Rhode Island House, and a biographer. Ambrose Kennedy, a

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Frank Licht

Mr. Licht, formerly of Providence, was Governor of the State of Rhode Island from 1969 to 1973, and served as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court from 1956 to 1968.  He was also a member of the State Senate for seven years, and was the only Rhode Island Governor to serve in all three

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Colonel Martha E. McSally

Warwick-born and raised, Martha McSally is truly a renaissance woman. She is an Air Force Academy graduate who was the first American woman to fly in combat and was also the first woman to command a USAF fighter squadron. No slouch at school, Martha was a Rhodes Scholarship regional finalist and a White House Fellowship

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Florence Kerins Murray

Florence Kerins Murray, 1916-2004,was a high-ranking officer in the Women’s Army Corps, Rhode Island’s first female state senator (and was reelected four times), female judge and member of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

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Justice Jeremiah Edward O’Connell

Jeremiah O’Connell was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts on July 8, 1883 to Irish immigrant parents and financed his own education at Boston University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1906, a law degree cum laude in 1908, and an LL.M in 1908. Thereafter he moved to Providence where he served on the common council from 1913

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John J. Partington

  Partington, John, 1929-2006 John Partington was born in the Valley Falls section of Cumberland, the son of the late Williard F. And Mary C. (Hogan) Partington, and he remained a lifelong Cumberland resident. From 1955 to 1967 John served as a police officer in his native town. Later, he would become its chief of

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Judge Raymond J. Pettine

Judge Raymond J. Pettine (1912-2003) is remembered as one of Rhode Island’s most distinguished jurists, especially revered for his commitment to freedom of expression and equal treatment for all, including even those who are despised by the majority. Judge Pettine was appointed to the United States District Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966

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Congressman Elisha Reynolds Potter Jr.

Congressman Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr. (1811-1882) of South Kingstown was the son and namesake of a U.S. congressman, Elisha Reynolds Potter, Sr. (1764-1835) and Mary (Mawney) Potter. The remarkably varied career of this Harvard graduate included such occupations and positions as attorney, historian, adjutant general, state legislator, congressman, state commissioner of public schools (succeeding Henry

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Justice William E. Powers

William E. Powers was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island on December 18, 1907. He attended St. Patrick Parochial School, Perkins Institute for the Blind, and Boston University Law School. His blindness, the result of an accident at his home in 1927, did not deter him from active service to his state as Cumberland probate judge,

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Governor Robert E. Quinn

Robert Emmett Quinn, 1884-1975, a prominent Democratic politician who served successively as state senator, lieutenant governor, governor, associate Justice of the Superior Court, and Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. Quinn was the principle architect of the Bloodless Revolution of 1935 and a major protagonist in the Race Track War of 1937.

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Patricia R. Recupero, JD, MD

Dr. Patricia Recupero, a resident of Providence, has dedicated her life advocating for the mentally ill. Following her graduation from the State University of New York with a degree in mathematics, she attended Boston College Law School, receiving her degree in 1973. After a few years practicing law and driven by her desire to help

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Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr.

Joseph R. Rodgers, Jr., presiding Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court since 1991, is the youngest judge in modern Rhode Island history to be appointed to both the District and Superior courts. In 1974, at age 33, he became associate justice of the District Court and was elevated to the Superior Court in 1976.

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Judge Bruce M. Selya

The story of Rhode Island’s own Bruce Selya is the story of success itself. The son of Herman and Betty Selya, Bruce was born in Providence on May 27, 1934. He distinguished himself as a star student at Classical High School (magna cum laude, 1951) and at Harvard College (magna cum laude, 1955). After graduating

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Milton Stanzler Esq.

Milton Stanzler founded the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and served as its first president in 1959. He built the organization into a formidable operation that supported the separation of church and state and freedom of speech locally. The United States Supreme Court decided several of his cases. Milton often took

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Chief Justice William Read Staples

Chief Justice William Read Staples of Providence was a prominent lawyer, jurist, and civil servant. With the possible exception of Samuel Greene Arnold, who eulogized him, Staples was also the premier Rhode Island historian of the nineteenth century. In the 1820s, Staples became a leader of the Rhode Island bar and then a prosecutor for

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Chief Justice John Henry Stiness

John Henry Stiness (1840-1913) was born to a family with strong New England civic and military roots.  His great grandfather, Samuel, served in Colonel John Glover’s famous maritime regiment during the American Revolution, and his grandfather was sailing master aboard the schooner Growler on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. In August, 1861, after

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Thomas A. Verdi

Providence Police Department Major Thomas A. Verdi has achieved a level of performance in the field of law enforcement comparable to other notable Hall of Fame members such as Colonel Walter Stone, Major Lionel Benjamin, and Chief John Partington, founder of the federal Witness Protection Program–but Tom did it, in part, as an undercover cop far

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Spencer W. Viner Esq.

“My parents taught me the importance of being honest and fair in all my dealings, to look for the good in people, to try to ignore their shortcomings, and to be kind to everyone.” Spencer Viner took this advice to heart and hopefully imparted these maxims to his two daughters, Tonja and Lindsey. With his

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Arthur N Votolato Judge

Judge Arthur Votolato was appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Rhode Island in 1968. His exceptional work on that tribunal led to his appointment as Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit at its inception in June 1996. He served as its chief until April 2003. The

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Joseph W. Walsh Esq.

Joe Walsh is a leader, a public servant, and a humanitarian with a thoughtful manner and a big heart. His passion for people, desire to serve his community, and popularity in his days in government led The Providence Sunday Journal Magazine to ask: “Doesn’t Anyone Out There Hate this Man”? (Sept. 9, 1979). The newspaper

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Chief Justice Joseph R. Weisberger

Chief Justice Joseph Weisberger, 1920-2012, spent 56 years in the Rhode Island Judiciary and at the time of his retirement, was Supreme Court Justice of Rhode Island. He previously served the state as a Presiding Justice of the Superior Court and as a Senator and Minority Leader. Chief Justice Weisberger was instrumental in establishing am

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H. Philip West Jr.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Phil West graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York in 1963 as an honors major in English Literature. He entered the prestigious Union Theological Seminary from which he received a masters of divinity degree in 1967 with a year of research at Cambridge University in England, the alma

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Henry Wheaton

Henry Wheaton, 1785-1848 , persevered, despite Rhode Island’s disapproval of the War of 1812, to be one of Rhode Island’s most persuasive legal defenders during that time. He stands alongside the foremost naval hero of the War of 1812, Oliver Hazard Perry, and Rhode Island’s most successful privateer, James D’Wolf. This jurist, diplomat, and expounder

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John Whipple

John Whipple (1784-1866) of Providence was a leader of the early 19th century Rhode Island Bar, the state’s foremost trial attorney, and Rhode Island’s most prominent constitutional lawyer. Daniel Webster,Whipple’s co-counsel in the landmark Rhode Island case of Luther v. Borden (1849) regarded Whipple and Jeremiah Mason of New Hampshire as the two most formidable

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Frank J. Williams

Frank J. Williams is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, a notable Abraham Lincoln scholar and author, and a Justice on the Military Commission Review Panel. He has written and edited fourteen books; contributed chapters to several others; and lectured on Abraham Lincoln throughout the country. He has amassed an

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