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Governor Raimondo appoints a ‘diverse set of judges’



“I’m incredibly proud of these six outstanding, talented attorneys,” said Governor Gina Raimondo standing with six judicial nominees she will put before the Senate when they return to session in January. “The wealth of experience they will each bring to our courts will benefit Rhode Islanders for years to come. Appointing judges to our courts isn’t something I take lightly, and and I have the utmost confidence that these nominees will serve Rhode Islanders fairly and honorably on the bench.”

“For whatever reasons, in my term as governor there’s been a number of vacancies and so we are seizing upon the opportunity to put the most qualified people we can on the bench. Also making sure that they are people deeply committed to Rhode Island and that they look like the people who come before them,” said Raimondo. “I’m very proud to be appointing one of the most diverse sets of judges, I think, really, ever, that any governor has been able to appoint at one time.”

Three of the nominees, Smith, Cardoza and Dubois, are graduates of Roger Williams University Law.

“This is a great day for our Roger Williams University Law graduates, each of whom is most deserving of the trust of Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Senate,” said Roger Williams University Law Dean Michael Yelnosky. “This is also a great day for Rhode Island. The Judicial Nominating Commission and now Governor Raimondo have taken a bold and long overdue step toward making the Rhode Island judiciary more reflective of the population it serves.”

The three Roger Williams University Law graduates are African-American and will add much-needed diversity to the state judiciary, law school officials said.

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Here are the nominees:

Melissa DuBose is a graduate of Shea High School in Pawtucket and of Providence College. Before attending Roger Williams University Law, DuBose worked in the Providence public schools. As a social studies and history teacher, she developed Central High School‘s Street Law curriculum. Her career as an attorney began as a Special Assistant Attorney General. During her tenure at the Attorney General’s office, she worked in the Juvenile Division and the Superior Court Unit.  Since 2008, she has worked as senior legal counsel at Schneider Electric in Foxboro, Massachusetts, providing in-house legal support for the company’s global units. From 2005 to 2009, she worked as a special assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the state attorney general’s office. She graduated from Roger Williams University Law in 2004 and is a member of the Roger Williams University Law Board of Directors. She currently serves as a board member of the Rhode Island Industrial Facilities Corporation and is a past Commissioner of the Providence Board of Investment. She is currently a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association‘s Public Interest and LGBT committees.

Melissa DuBose has been nominated to District Court.

Melissa Dubose

Since 2010,  Christopher Knox Smith has represented indigent clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges at the state public defender’s office. Smith received his JD from the Roger Williams University Law before continuing onto the University of Oregon School of Law for an LL.M. in International Environmental Law. After passing the Bar, Smith worked for State Senator James Sheehan (Democrat, District 36, Narragansett), for the Conservation Law Foundation, and in private practice. Since 2010, he has been an Assistant Public Defender with the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office, where he was Supervising Attorney of Kent County and is currently Chief of the District Court Division. Outside the practice of law, Smith is a member of the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Executive Committee, the Rhode Island Thurgood Marshall Law Society, Engeye Scholars Advisory Board, a Roger Williams School of Law Ambassador and an annual volunteer at the Boston Marathon Expo.

Smith has been nominated to District Court.

Christopher Knox Smith

Keith Cardoza Jr has represented employers, employees, insurance carriers and third-party administrators for all aspects of workers’ compensation claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts as a founding partner with the firm Izzo, Gardner & Cardoza. He tries 30-50 cases to completion annually in the Workers’ Compensation Court. Cardoza attended the University of Rhode Island and continued on to graduate, with honors, from the Roger Williams University Law. He graduated from Roger Williams University Law in 2010.

Cardoza has been nominated to Workers’ Compensation Court.

Keith Cardoza

After graduating cum laude from Suffolk Law School, Susan Pepin Fay moved to Rhode Island, where she started her legal career as the Assistant Chief Law Clerk for the Rhode Island Superior Court. For the last 20 years, she has been a partner at Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney. For the last two decades, she has worked exclusively in the workers’ compensation field. Susan has been a board member of Young Voices, a non-profit organization that provides intensive leadership training to young people.

Susan Pepin Fay has been nominated to Workers’ Compensation Court.

Susan Pepin Fay

After graduation from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and passing the Rhode Island Bar, Melissa Darigan began working for Partridge Snow and Hahn. She has spent her entire 26-year career with the firm, specializing in contested trust and estate litigation, insurance and banking. For 15 years, she chaired the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. She now serves on the Firm’s 3-person Executive Committee. Darigan is a former President of the Rhode Island Bar Association, an Executive Committee Member and a current House of Delegates Member, as well as a current or former member of a multitude of other legal societies and associations. She speaks on a wide variety of legal topics. In the community, she has been involved with FirstWorks, Providence City Arts for Youth, Big Sisters, Leading Women, Rhode Island Coalition for Minority Investment, and Minority Investment Development Corporation.

Darigan has been nominated for Superior Court.

Melissa Darigan

After graduating law school, Richard Merola began his legal career in private practice. Throughout his 23-year legal career, he has spent his time representing clients in front of the Family, District and Superior Courts. He is currently the Managing Attorney for Martinous Law Associates.  Merola is a member of The Edward P. Gallogly Family Law Inn of Court. He has held multiple leadership roles and currently serves as the President. He is also a member of the Justinian Law Society

Merola has been nominated for Family Court.

Richard Merola

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