June 28, 2023

Reed & Whitehouse Statement on District Court Judge William E. Smith Taking Senior Status

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, after Judge William E. Smith, 63, announced his intention to take “senior status” on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, starting January 1, 2025, upon the confirmation of his successor, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse congratulated him on his years of service on the federal bench.

Senior status allows federal judges who have reached certain age and years of service requirements to voluntarily take a reduced number of cases.  Judge Smith has served on the federal bench for over twenty years, since November of 2002.

“I commend Judge Smith for his professionalism, integrity, and two decades of service on the federal bench.  As chief, he made the federal court more accessible to the public and the press; he was a leader on issues involving criminal justice reform; and he established court programs designed as alternatives to incarceration.  I wish him well as he transitions to the next phase of his career,” said Senator Reed.

“Judge Smith has been a thoughtful, fair, and impartial jurist, and as then-Chief Judge he led the Court through security and technology upgrades,” said Senator Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “I am grateful for his more than two decades of honorable service to the people of Rhode Island, and I wish him all the very best in this next chapter.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island is the state’s federal trial court, which has jurisdiction over both civil and criminal matters.  It currently comprises Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr.; Judge William E. Smith; Judge Mary S. McElroy; and Magistrate Judges Lincoln D. Almond and Patricia A. Sullivan.

The vacancy created by Judge Smith taking senior status means President Biden may nominate a new federal judge to replace Judge Smith.

It is customary for the President to ask U.S. Senators for recommendations for judicial appointments, although ultimately it is the President’s role to nominate a candidate who must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Reed and Whitehouse will make an announcement about the application process for the federal judgeship at a later date.

Chip Unruh (Reed), (202) 224-4642

Meaghan McCabe (Whitehouse), (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921