TGIF is back in the swing of RI politics after a relaxing summer break. So thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's dive in.

Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr., the former chief judge of RI's Family Court, died Sunday at age 80, a court spokesman said.

Courts spokesman Craig Berke said details were not immediately available on the cause of Judge Jeremiah's death.

According to Berke, Jeremiah was appointed associate justice of the Family Court in March 1986. A year later, in March 1987, he was sworn in as Chief Judge. He retired June 30, 2010. Jeremiah previously served in the Cranston City Solicitor’s office from 1963 to 1984, and as executive counsel for then-Governor Edward DiPrete from 1984 to 1986.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A good government group is supporting a bill that would bring more transparency to the process of selecting magistrates. Magistrates perform many of the same functions of judges, but they’re selected behind closed doors.

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joins Bonus Q+A to discuss partisan politics in Washington; how Rhode Island is being impacted by international trade; the outlook for criminal justice reform; and much more.

Hear more of our conversation with Senator Whitehouse on Political Roundtable.

Wikimedia Commons

A former government watchdog says governors and state legislators have weakened efforts meant to depoliticize the selection of judges.

The Judicial Nominating Commission was created 20 years ago to try to lessen the General Assembly’s influence on picking judges. The JNC is supposed to choose 3 to 5 highly qualified candidates, and the legislature is expected to act quickly once a governor picks a judge. But former Common Cause head Phil West said governors and lawmakers have fouled up the process.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

H. Philip West Jr. served as the executive director of Common Cause of Rhode Island for almost 20 years before stepping down in 2006. His tenure coincided with corruption in Governor Edward DiPrete’s administration, the state banking crisis, and high-profile battles over the Ethics Commission. West has turned his two decades observing Ocean State politics into a 684-page book called “Secrets and Scandals.” Rhode Island Public Radio Reporter Ian Donnis sat down with West to discuss the book and how much Rhode Island has changed.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Political consultant Cara Cromwell, who has worked for politicians as varied as Bruce Sundlun and John Loughlin, joins us on Political Roundtable this week to discuss Richard Licht's pursuit of a Superior Court judgeship; Frank Caprio's proposal to restore pension COLAs; Lisa Baldelli-Hunt big primary win in Woonsocket; and the new Brown University poll.

Common Cause of RI executive director John Marion joins us on Bonus Q+A to discuss the General Assembly, selecting judges in Rhode Island, the evolving world of campaign finance, the 2014 vote on a constitutional convention, and other topics.

Don Boorman / RIPR

After the Rhode Island court scandals of the 1990’s, the state changed the way judges are chosen. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay explains why lawyers with Statehouse connections keep getting appointed to the bench … despite the reforms.

Common Cause of Rhode Island, the good government group, the Rhode Island Bar Association and a past president of the NAACP skewered Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently when he elevated former Senate President Joe Montalbano to a coveted judgeship on the state superior court bench.

In a move that will be interpreted as a kiss to the leadership of the state Senate, Governor Lincoln Chafee on Friday unveiled his nomination of former Senate president Joseph Montalbano as a Superior Court judge. Chafee is also nominating Patricia Asquith as associate justice of the Family Court.

Via statement: