Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Hurst, a jurist of wit, wisdom and legal acumen, is retiring after 26 years on the state trial court.
Hurst sent her retirement letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo today and plans to leave by the end of April.
Judge Hurst has more than 35 years of legal experience, the last 26 as a trial court judge presiding over civil and criminal trials. A graduate of Coe College and Suffolk University Law School, she began her law career in a general trial practice. Hurst also served as legal counsel to the Providence Civic Center and the Providence School Committee. She also was chairperson of the Zoning Board of Review in the capital city.
Hurst was appointed to the Superior Court bench as an associate justice. Her assignments have included presiding over complex civil discovery proceedings and civil trials suffused with technical scientific evidence. She has also presided over criminal jury trials in murder, sexual assault and robbery cases.
In her long career, Hurst has been active in legal education. She taught criminal law, evidence and civil procedure at Roger Williams University Law School. She frequently speaks at local and national educational forums for judges, lawyers, expert witnesses and college and law school students.
Her publications include `Rhode Island Discovery Practice,’ a publication that in 2011 won the `best publication’ award from the Association for Continuing Legal Education. She has also been a member of the editorial board of the Rhode Island Bar Association.
Hurst has been active in the National Association of Women judges and the International Association of Women judges.
She is admitted to practice in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, the U.S. Federal District Court for the districts of RI and Massachusetts, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. She has also been an arbitrator on construction matters for the American Arbitration Association.
In 1992, Hurst’s wit was in evidence when she was briefly removed from the bench after squirting a water pistol at two squabbling lawyers in her court. She joked at the time that she was ``probably guilty of having a bad sense of humor.’’
Her retirement means there are now 11 judicial vacancies in the state court system, according to court spokesman Craig Berke.