“Jurisprudential Stuff”

GavelSupreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams surprised everyone when he announced Thursday that he will be stepping down from this coveted and prestigious post at the end of the month.  And while the legal community may be stunned, I doubt they are terribly sad.  And now the delightful personality of this tedious jackass is on display for all to see.  According to The Providence Journal, he’s in a pet because he can’t believe the citizens of Rhode Island find this all a little bit curious if not downright suspicious.

“…I want to be relieved from the administrative burdens that are 24/7 as chief, and I want to continue to do jurisprudential stuff … Why can’t that be accepted?”

He goes on to blame our inordinate interest in this sudden turn of events on our defects of character.

“If I think outside the box and say, at [age] 68, I have other interests, in cooking and Lincoln [Williams considers himself quite the Lincoln scholar] and writing, why isn’t that acceptable? Because this is Rhode Island, because people here are suspicious and cynical?”

Well Mr. Williams, when the salient features of one’s professional career have been naked ambition and self-promotion — not to mention a breath-taking legislative expansion of your authority over judicial budgetary matters — yes, people are going to ask a few questions when you suddenly vacate the throne after less than eight years.

Of course as noted in the article, cynicism is a completely rational response for Rhode Islanders.  One former Chief Justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua stepped down in 1986 amid allegations of mob ties. (There was also a charming front page photo of him zipping up his fly after exiting a mobbed-up no-tell motel after a tryst with some dame.)  Seven years later his successor, Thomas F. Fay, resigned after an impeachment vote by the RI House. That proud jurist was charged with among other things, channeling state money into a slush fund for purchasing beer and Red Sox tickets.

So goodbye, Frank. Good luck trying to get Doris Kearns Goodwin to return your calls.

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