Rhode Island’s Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to confirm a number of judicial appointments Wednesday. The nominees all have connections at the Statehouse.
The nominations include Deputy Secretary of State Melissa Long’s appointment as a Superior Court judge and Family Court Magistrate Felix Gill’s elevation to Family Court judge. Gill is the brother-in-law of Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey.
Three nominees to become magistrates also have political connections: former state Rep Patrick O’Neill; Richard Raspallo, the legal counsel to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello; and Andrea Iannazzi, a legal advisor to Governor Gina Raimondo.
Magistrates get 10-year appointments. They don’t preside over trials, but they do perform other judicial functions. Unlike judges, they are selected without an opportunity for public comment. Critics say magistrate jobs reward political insiders. Supporters say the nominees are well qualified.
Editor’s Note: Superior Court nominee Melissa Long is married to James “Ted” Long, the former chairman of Rhode Island Public Radio’s board of directors.