PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced eight judicial nominations to fill vacancies on the Superior Court, Family Court, District Court and Workers' Compensation Court. These names will be submitted this week to the Rhode Island Senate for confirmation.
"I am delighted to recommend eight outstanding Rhode Islanders to serve in our state court system," Raimondo said. "Thanks to the good work of the Judicial Nominating Commission, I am nominating individuals with high standards of excellence and integrity. They are all highly-qualified people who are experienced practitioners that would treat everyone who comes before them with dignity and respect."
Superior Court has jurisdiction over all felony proceedings and civil proceedings where the amount in controversy is more than $10,000. Additionally, the Court has specialty business, gun, drug, sexual predator, and domestic violence calendars.
Attorney Maureen Keough
Maureen Keough has been a practicing attorney since 1995. She has been with the Department of Attorney General since 1999 where she started as prosecutor and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. Since 2006 she has served on the Domestic Violence Task Force. She is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University School of Law.
"Attorney Keough's exceptional trial skills and lifelong commitment to public service will make her an excellent addition to the bench," Raimondo said. "She also understands the need to find creative solutions to making the criminal justice system run better for the people it serves."
The Family Court has jurisdiction to hear all petitions for divorce, child support, adoptions, and matters related to delinquent, wayward, dependent, neglected, or abused juveniles. Additionally, the Court has specialty Family Treatment Drug, Juvenile Drug, Immigration, and Truancy calendars.
Judge Michael Forte
Judge Forte has served on the bench of the Family Court since 1987 and is being nominated to serve as the Chief Judge of Family Court. He has served as the interim Chief Judge of this court since the retirement of Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian. Over the years, Forte has also been active in his community, including coaching youth sports, and volunteering with Newport County Red Cross. He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Franklin Pierce Law Center.
Magistrate Rossie Lee Harris
Rossie Lee Harris has served as a Family Court magistrate since 2013. He has dedicated his career to helping families in need, having served as legal counsel to the Department of Children Youth and Families, and then as Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem to children in DCYF care. He is also a member of the NAACP. He is a graduate of Brown University, the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy and Boston College Law School.
Attorney Lia Stuhlsatz
Lia Stuhlsatz has been an attorney since 1996, and joined Rhode Island Legal Services in 1999. She is currently the supervisor of the Family Preservation Unit. Prior to joining Legal Services she served in the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office, worked with Edwin Gould Services for Children/Catholic Charities on a program for incarcerated mothers and taught Junior High Social Studies. She is a graduate of Smith College, and City University of New York Law School.
"Judge Forte has led Family Court on an interim basis, and has articulated a vision for the court that supports families during their most difficult times," Raimondo said. "Magistrate Harris and Attorney Stuhlsatz have also demonstrated a lifelong commitment to strengthening families. I am proud to nominate these three people so they can continue to serve our families with compassion and integrity."
The District Court has jurisdiction over civil matters where the amount in controversy is less than $5,000, landlord/tenant matters, violations of housing standards, and criminal arraignments of misdemeanors and felonies. The Court has specialty mental health, small claims, and veterans' calendars.
Attorney Brian Goldman
Brian Goldman has been in private practice since 1988. He is a combat veteran who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Goldman has litigated cases in all the state's courts and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is particularly devoted to the Rhode Island veterans' community, and has performed pro bono work for members of the National Guard and their families. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, Boston University School of Law and the U.S. Air Force Air War College.
Attorney James Caruolo
James Caruolo has been an attorney since 1991. Prior to going into private practice, Caruolo worked as a prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office in the Appellate, District Court and Narcotics units. He is also a Colonel in the Army National Guard, serves as the State Judge Advocate, and is a board member of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center. He is a graduate of Rhode Island College and received his law degree from Suffolk University School of Law.
"Given the additional emphasis the District Court is placing on serving our veterans, I am delighted to appoint two professionals with military service," Raimondo said. "Attorneys Goldman and Caruolo have the legal and life experiences to understand what many of the people before them are going through."
Workers' Compensation Court
Workers' Compensation Court has jurisdiction over employers and employees relative to work-related injuries, whether traumatic or occupational in nature, among other issues.
Judge Robert Ferrieri
Judge Ferrieri has served on the bench since 2008, and is being nominated to serve as the Chief Judge of the Workers' Compensation Court. During his tenure he has taken time to educate high school students about working safely and speaking to other attorneys about workers' compensation issues. He is a graduate of Providence College and Suffolk University School of Law.
Attorney Michael Feeney
Michael Feeney has been an attorney since 1988. He also serves as the assistant town solicitor in East Greenwich, and participates in the Superior Court Pilot Program, which provides legal services to indigent defendants in criminal cases. He is a graduate of Suffolk University and New England School of Law.
"I am confident that as chief judge, Judge Ferrieri will continue to make our Workers' Compensation Court a national model," Raimondo said. "Attorney Feeney's broad range of legal experience make him an excellent addition to the Workers' Compensation Court."