Providence, RI - Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced his nomination of Mary S. McElroy, a career public defender with nearly twenty years of experience at the state and federal level, for Rhode Island Public Defender. McElroy would be the first woman to hold the position since it was established in 1941.
"Mary McElroy has extensive experience as both a state and federal public defender," Governor Chafee said. "Over the course of her accomplished career, she has gained invaluable knowledge of the judicial system and its workings and is highly regarded on both sides of the courtroom. I am confident that Mary will live up to the high standards set by her predecessor, the beloved John Hardiman."
"I am proud and humbled that Governor Chafee has entrusted me with the important duty of ensuring the rights of the people of Rhode Island," McElroy said.
McElroy has been an active member of the Rhode Island legal community for two decades. After graduating from Providence College, where she was a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program, McElroy attended Suffolk University School of Law, from which she received her J.D., cum laude, in 1992 and received the American Jurisprudence Award. She then clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and spent a year as an associate with the Providence firm Tate & Elias.
From 1994 to 2006, McElroy served as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender. In this role, she represented indigent defendants charged in felony cases, conducted felony jury trials in Rhode Island Superior Court, and assisted mentally ill and chemically dependent clients in securing treatment alternatives to incarceration.
Since 2006, McElroy has served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the U.S. District of Rhode Island. In this capacity, she has represented indigent defendants in criminal matters in federal court, managed each aspect of the criminal process from arraignment to trial and sentencing, and conducted suppression hearings, sentencing hearings, and felony jury trials – among other responsibilities.
McElroy is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, the Bar of the U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island, and the Bar of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. She is currently President-elect of the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The Rhode Island Public Defender oversees approximately fifty lawyers who provide legal representation to indigent adult criminal defendants and indigent juvenile respondents. The state agency also provides representation to parents who are threatened with loss of custody of their children because of alleged unfitness or neglect.