RI Public Defender Mary McElroy Confirmed to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island

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Rhode Island now has a full court (Photo: MSNBC website)

RI Public Defender Mary McElroy Confirmed to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island

With only Sens Reed & Whitehouse present in the U.S. Senate chambers, RI Public Defender Mary McElroy was confirmed on her third attempt to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island.

Sen. Reed issued an immediate Tweet: “All rise! The full U.S. Senate just approved the nomination of Mary S. McElroy to be the next U.S. District Court Judge for the @USDC_RI. It is great news that RIers will now have a fully staffed court so cases can be heard more efficiently, and justice isn’t delayed.”


Sen. Whitehouse followed with his Tweet: “I am thrilled that Mary McElroy is at long last officially set to become a U.S. District Judge for Rhode Island. Mary has impeccable credentials and a long commitment to public service. I’m confident she will serve the people of Rhode Island with distinction on the bench and pleased at the happiness of her new colleagues at her arrival.”


From an earlier press release issued jointly by Sens. Reed & Whitehouse:

“Throughout her impressive legal career, Ms. McElroy has demonstrated the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, and skill. We are confident in her ability to serve justice on the federal bench. We believe Ms. McElroy is a well-qualified, consensus nominee,” stated Reed and Whitehouse.

This was the third time Mary McElroy had been nominated to serve as a district court judge in Rhode Island. In 2015, her nomination was first put forward by President Obama on the recommendation of Reed and Whitehouse, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination, but no floor vote was ever scheduled. McElroy’s nomination was returned to the White House in early 2017 at the expiration of the 114th Congress and end of Obama’s term. 

In 2018, President Trump re-nominated her, again on the recommendation of Reed and Whitehouse, and again she was approved by the Judiciary Committee, but did not get a floor vote before the 115th Congress expired.

About Mary McElroy

A Warwick native who currently resides in East Greenwich, Mary McElroy serves as the state’s Public Defender.  She is the first woman in Rhode Island history to hold this important post, which provides high-quality legal representation to all indigent citizens in Rhode Island in criminal, juvenile, and parental rights cases.  Ms. McElroy has over 20 years of legal experience at the state and federal level, having previously served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the United States District of Rhode Island and as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender.

She graduated with honors from Suffolk University School of Law and also holds an undergraduate degree in history from Providence College.  She also clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and was an associate with the Providence law firm Tate & Elias.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island is the state’s federal trial court that has jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters.

Ms. McElroy fills the vacancy created by Judge Mary M. Lisi, who assumed senior status in 2015.