Justice Williams, who became chief justice in late February 2001, stressed in public comments that he wants to decide cases by not only following the letter of the law but also achieving a fair, just result. Atty. John T. Duffy wrote Williams suggesting he, "...Just keep politics out of our court system" and to "..break the historic and destructive pattern of political hiring in our state courts."
Chief Justice Frank J. Williams rejects calls from watchdog groups for a fraud audit to determine what happened to the $31 million dollars apparently missing from the Rhode Island Traffic Court mess! An audit in 1999 by KPMG found there were so few controls on traffic-court records that employees could steal the court's money, cancel unpaid tickets, change ticket values, all without detection. But the audit also said the lack of controls made it "virtually impossible to detect those activities in a systematic and efficient fashion." Yet Chief Justice Frank J. Williams rejects calls from watchdog groups for a fraud audit saying, "Independent reviews by 2 accounting firms indicated that there was no evidence of fraud to warrant a costly forensic audit, and that there was no missing money!" Williams also said that the perception that monies were unaccounted for, stolen or misappropriated are "simply not true." Clearly resenting Citizen oversight and investigation, Williams also complained that state government is being considered guilty until proven innocent.
On 9-2-2001, Eugene Nadeau wrote in the Providence Journal, "..Chief Justice Frank Williams' recent pronouncements and unacceptable excuses for the scandalous state traffic court are an outrage. The unknown status of tens of thousands of unpaid tickets and the loss of $31 million are an abomination, and another Rhode Island disgrace..."
Read how Justice Williams allowed his personal opinions to interfere with the investigation of ethics complaints by using the Providence Journal and his office as a bully pulpit.
Justice Williams presided over a trial in which Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Flanders states, "the Rhode Island Superior Court violated Christopher Thornton's Sixth Amendment rights in 3 specific ways."
Justice Williams protects the Catholic Church and sees full disclosure of wrong doing as being "unnecessary to our culture." (AP) _ "Gentlemen, why can't we mediate?" asked Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams, who'd once helped settle a bitter dispute between the state and its prison guards. This time, he was talking to attorneys who for a decade had tangled over claims of abuse by clergy members. His encouragement within weeks helped settle 36 of 38 cases involving 11 accused priests and a nun. The settlement, announced a year ago Tuesday, set a precedent for how new allegations will be handled in the nation's most Catholic state. A total of 37 cases were eventually settled for more than $14 million.
Last month, a Superior Court judge dismissed the lone remaining case of alleged clergy abuse. Judge Robert Krause ruled Mary Ryan of Burrillville, who'd turned down a $400,000 settlement offer, waited too long to file her civil case. Ryan wanted to force the diocese to turn over whatever records it had on accused clergy members. But the diocese has been able to avoid the forced release of documents that in Massachusetts and other states showed the depth of the church's tolerance of alleged abusers. The Boston archdiocese is negotiating to settle with lawyers for more than 540 alleged clergy sex abuse victims, many of whom came forward after a court-ordered release of church documents. Note: See actual church documents!
The Providence diocese for the first time last week acknowledged other allegations of abuse by clergy members. It hopes to resolve the cases more than 20, according to attorney Tim Conlon, who represented many who settled last year without going to court. To Phyllis Hutnak, who settled her claim she was seduced by a priest when she was a teenager, "the diocese has what it wants, things are quiet." "They can't prove to me this will never happen again until they disclose the documents," the Charlestown woman said. With no pending lawsuits pressing the diocese, she says the attorney general's office needs to step in and investigate.
Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly recently issued a report that priests and other workers likely molested 1,000 people since 1940. Rhode Island Deputy Attorney General Gerald Coyne noted that the damning report did not lead to criminal charges, due to weak state laws in place at the time of the incidents. The report also included information the archdiocese was forced to release due to lawsuits. "
In Rhode Island, the vast majority chose to settle," Coyne said. "Some people look to use a place of last resort but that's not our role." Coyne said last week he's had discussions for nearly two years with the Providence diocese about a formal reporting process for abuse allegations that's "85 percent worked out." The diocese has assured him it's received no reports warranting a criminal investigation. "I take the diocese at their word, until proven otherwise," Coyne said. Note: Is the Attorney General's office as trusting and hesitant to act when it doesn't involve something as powerful as the Catholic Church?
Justice Williams believes a settlement was better than a
protracted dissection of the diocese's handling of allegations of
clergy abuse. "This was good for everybody, the diocese, priests
and the victims, who got to sound off with ... the bishop,"
Williams said. Note: So Justice Williams saw the
victims as "sounding off" and that being adequate to fully meet the
needs of justice? Before Williams was a lower court
order that could have forced the diocese to release secret
documents to attorneys for alleged victims. Instead he pushed
for settlement, as he'd done in countless other cases.
"You don't need a forum such as the court to go through every gory
detail," Williams said of the church abuse cases. "I don't think we
need that as a culture." He also encouraged the diocese and
attorneys for plaintiffs to work out a protocol for mediating
future cases. Clearly Justice Williams is oblivious to the
fact "our culture" needs to see courts that work and the status quo
not being protected. Clearly, with Justice Williams, the
facts or the true depth of wrongdoing didn't matter when it came to
the Roman Catholic Church.
In 3-2004 this quote was in the Providence Journal, "Justice Williams believes the religious doctrine with which he was raised -- as a Catholic -- is "not that far from the kind of standards we're held to through the legislature and the courts..."
Read Judge Fortunato's complaint regarding Justice Williams.
5-2004 Chief Justice Frank J. Williams says he is "embarrassed" that the first 250 words of an article he wrote in 1993 are nearly identical to a 1957 story in The Sunday Journal. Devoted Abraham Lincoln scholar and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams acknowledged last week that he "inadvertently" used the opening paragraphs of a 1957 Journal magazine story in an article he wrote on Lincoln in 1993. "I feel terrible, mortified, embarrassed," Williams said. "I take full responsibility for it."
6-2004 In the closing rush of this year's legislative session, Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank Williams is seeking to boost his power by trying to cut out the governor from decisions about the judiciary's annual budget request. He calls this a "separation-of-powers" issue -- that the judiciary should be able to do what it wants without the governor having a say. It seems likely that political influence would corrupt justice under the direct alliance with the legislature that Chief Justice Williams is trying to push through. He wants his request for money to go straight to the General Assembly, without the filter of the governor. So a chief justice would have much more power to cut deals with legislative leaders. Some 28 percent of House members are lawyers, and many of them argue in front of state courts regularly. They could conceivably get a better deal for their clients if they funded the judiciary to a chief justice's specifications. Moreover, he or she would apparently set the salaries of judges, conceivably using that authority to reward and punish, without any check on that power, since state judicial appointments are for life
Read about McKenna v. Williams for complete insight on how our courts can do whatever legal gymnastics they choose to protect the status quo.
Certain members of the Rhode Island House leadership and the administrative head of the state judicial branch, Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams, are collaborating to undermine provisions of the state constitution to create a needless additional unconstitutional patronage position in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.
The state constitution, which is a sacred contract between the voters and the three branches of state government, Article V, requires separate judicial power, Article X, §1, §2, only to be exercised by judges approved by the Judicial Nominating Commission, Article X, §4, appointed by the governor, Article X, §5, and approved by the state Senate, as a check and balance upon the abuse of concentrated power, pursuant to Article VI, §1, the Constitutional Supremacy Clause. Magistrates have no constitutional power to enter judgments.
The proposed House Finance Committee legislation, as a rider on the appropriations bill, would eliminate the role of the distinguished Chief District Court judge, Albert DeRobbio, a former Superior Court judge, as the administrative head of a the Traffic Tribunal, and replace his judicial functions with a new magistrate appointed by Frank Williams. The replacement magistrate, suggested by Williams and certain House members, would then have the power to appoint other Traffic Tribunal magistrates, reputedly from among referrals by certain House members. Electors should contact their state representatives and senators to stop this unconstitutional patronage power grap. - Attorney Kevin McKenna
Unlike other state agencies, the judiciary does not answer to the governor regarding budget matters. The General Assembly, at the urging of then-Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, five years ago passed a budget article that dictates that the governor must pass along the judiciary's budget request to the state lawmakers without changes.