July 9, 2015

Reed and Whitehouse Announce Recommendation of Mary McElroy to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island

Senators’ recommendation to the President is the first step in the confirmation process

PROVIDENCE, RI – The process to fill the upcoming federal court vacancy in Rhode Island took a step forward today as United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced they have recommended that President Barack Obama nominate Rhode Island Public Defender Mary McElroy, of Coventry, to the U.S. District Court in Providence.

“After a months-long, open effort to solicit qualified applicants and conduct extensive interviews, we are prepared to take the next step in this process and have decided, after careful deliberation, to recommend that President Obama nominate Mary McElroy to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island.

“Many talented and skilled Rhode Islanders came forward to express an interest in serving their country on the federal bench.  We were impressed by the particularly strong applicant pool and the talent, character, and commitment to public service demonstrated by the accomplished set of candidates.

“Mary McElroy is highly qualified and would serve on the federal bench with distinction.  Mary possesses a strong legal background, a steadfast commitment to justice and the rule of law, and the temperament, professionalism, and integrity to serve as a federal judge.  The depth of her experience with the practice of criminal law and with the U.S. District of Rhode Island has prepared her well for this role.  We believe she will be a fine addition to Chief Judge Smith’s court, and will follow the tradition of justice and decency that all of Rhode Island’s Federal Judges exhibit.

“This is a first step in the confirmation process, and we will support Mary every step along the way.  We look forward to working with the President and our colleagues in the Senate to see that this nomination receives fair and expeditious consideration,” said Reed and Whitehouse.

Mary McElroy currently serves as Rhode Island Public Defender, the first woman to hold that position since it was established in 1941.  She graduated from Providence College and then worked in the Office of the Attorney General as a clerk in the criminal division, and later as a paralegal in the civil division, while attending Suffolk University School of Law, from which she earned her J.D., cum laude, in 1992.  She then clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and spent a year in private practice.  From 1994 to 2006, McElroy served as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender.  From 2006 to 2012, McElroy served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the U.S. District of Rhode Island, and in 2012 she returned to the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender to serve in the top job.

Ms. McElroy is being recommended for a nomination to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, which is the state’s federal trial court that has jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters. 

If confirmed, Ms. McElroy would fill a vacancy created by Judge Mary M. Lisi, who has announced that she intends to retire from regular active service and will assume senior status on October 1, 2015.  ‎

“We want to once again thank Judge Lisi for her ground-breaking service as the court’s first female judge, as well as her steadfast dedication to the law.  We are also proud of the leadership of Chief Judge Smith who continues to innovate, as well as improve the court’s efficiency and transparency,” Reed and Whitehouse added.

It is customary for the President to ask U.S. Senators for recommendations for judicial appointments to their home states, although ultimately it is the President’s role to nominate a candidate who must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921