December 9, 2015

Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on McElroy’s Nomination for U.S. District Court for Rhode Island

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Judiciary Committee today held a hearing to consider Mary McElroy’s nomination to be a United States District Judge for the District of Rhode Island, the state’s federal trial court which has jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters.

Ms. McElroy currently serves as Rhode Island’s top public defender, and if confirmed, would fill a vacancy left by Judge Mary M. Lisi, who assumed senior status on the Court on October 1st.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse recommended Ms. McElroy to President Barack Obama for nomination in July.  The President accepted the Senators’ recommendation and officially nominated McElroy in September.

Noting that Ms. McElroy has widespread support from Rhode Island’s legal and law enforcement community, including the current Attorney General of Rhode Island and the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, Senator Reed stated during the hearing: “They support Mary’s nomination due to her tireless work ethic, commitment to the law, and sense of decency.”  Reed continued: “Her contributions and dedication to fair legal representation has taught Mary to see the world from many different viewpoints.  The best judges must not only have a firm command of the law but must also be able to understand and appreciate, in an impartial manner, the circumstances and perspectives of all those who come before the court.  Mary embodies both of these essential qualities.”

Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Judiciary Committee who served as Ranking Member during today’s nomination hearing for Ms. McElroy and four other District Court judicial nominees, stated: “Ms. McElroy is a devoted public servant and a talented attorney, who has built a long and impressive legal career.  She possesses qualities common to the very best jurists, like patience, discretion, compassion, and a deep commitment to the rule of law.  I am confident she will put those qualities to good use as a federal Judge and we look forward to her speedy confirmation.”

A Warwick native who currently resides in Coventry, Mary McElroy is the first woman in Rhode Island history to serves as the state’s Public Defender, which provides high-quality legal representation to all indigent citizens in Rhode Island in criminal, juvenile, and parental rights cases.  Ms. McElroy has over twenty years of legal experience at the state and federal level, having previously served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the United States District of Rhode Island and as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender.

She graduated with honors from Suffolk University School of Law and also holds an undergraduate degree in history from Providence College.  She also clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and was an associate with the Providence law firm Tate & Elias.

Now that Ms. McElroy has received a hearing, the next step is for the Judiciary Committee to schedule a vote on McElroy’s nomination.  A vote will likely take place in early 2016.

Then the nomination may be considered and voted on by the full Senate and McElroy’s nomination must receive a simple majority vote for confirmation.

Reed’s and Whitehouse’s introductions can be found here and here.


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