WASHINGTON, DC – The process to fill the upcoming federal court vacancy in Rhode Island took a step forward today as United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced they have recommended that President Joe Biden nominate Rhode Island District Court Associate Judge Melissa R. DuBose, of Providence, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

“After a collaborative, six-month process that included in-depth interviews with many qualified applicants, we are prepared to move forward and recommend that President Biden nominate Judge Melissa DuBose to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island.

“We appreciate the talented and skilled Rhode Islanders who came forward to express an interest in serving on the federal bench.  We were impressed by the strong, diverse applicant pool and the talent, character, and commitment to public service demonstrated by the accomplished set of candidates.

“Judge DuBose is exceptionally qualified to serve on the federal bench with honor, integrity, and distinction.  Not only does Judge DuBose possess a wealth of experience and a strong legal background, but she has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to justice and the rule of law.  She has proven herself to be someone who administers justice fairly and impartially, and has led efforts to make the court system work better for everyone it serves.  We believe she has the intellect, temperament, skill, and judgment to join the District Court, and will follow the proud tradition of justice and decency that all of Rhode Island’s federal judges exhibit.

“This is a critical step in the confirmation process.  We look forward to working with the President to submit her nomination and with our colleagues in the Senate to see that she is expeditiously confirmed,” said Reed and Whitehouse in a joint statement.

A native Rhode Islander, Melissa DuBose, 55, graduated from Providence College in 1990 with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and went on to receive her teaching certification from the Providence College School of Continuing Education. 

She taught history and civics in the Providence Public School system for a decade and earned her Juris Doctor from Roger Williams University School of Law, graduating in 2004.  Upon earning her law degree, she was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for Rhode Island and assigned to the criminal division from 2005 to 2008.  She went on to serve as senior legal counsel at Schneider Electric, in Foxboro, Massachusetts, providing in-house legal support for the company’s global units and specializing in federal contracts, corporate compliance, ethics, and fair trade.

In December of 2018, she was appointed to the Rhode Island District Court by Governor Gina Raimondo and confirmed by the Rhode Island State Senate the following month.

If nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Judge DuBose would become the first person of color and first openly LGBTQ judge to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.  She would fill a vacancy created by Judge William E. Smith, who has announced that he intends to retire from regular active service and will assume senior status on January 1, 2025.   

“We want to once again thank Judge Smith for his outstanding leadership and dedicated service.  Judge Smith has worked hard to make the federal court more accessible to the public and improve the court's efficiency and transparency,” Reed and Whitehouse added.

It is customary for the President to ask U.S. Senators for recommendations for judicial appointments to their home states, although ultimately it is the President’s role to nominate a candidate who must then be confirmed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.