brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

Governor Dan McKee today announced six judicial nominations to fill vacancies on the Superior Court, District Court, and Workers’ Compensation Court.

“It is an honor to appoint these six judges who will play a critical role in serving Rhode Island’s court system,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I know that with their combined decades of experience, they will fairly uphold the laws and values of Rhode Island. I thank the Judicial Nominating Committee for sending us a strong selection of qualified candidates.”

The following names have been submitted to the Rhode Island Senate for confirmation:

Superior Court

Christopher K. Smith has been nominated to the Superior Court. A graduate of Hamilton College, Roger Williams University School of Law and University of Oregon School of Law, he has served as an Associate Judge in the District Court since 2019. Prior to joining the bench, he was the Chief of the District Court Division for the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office. Presently, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University, sits on the Board of Directors for Crossroads Rhode Island and is a member of the Engeye Scholars Advisory Board. He resides with his wife and two children. Smith will fill the seat left vacant by Judge Susan E. McGuirl.

Joseph J. McBurney has been nominated to the Superior Court, filling the spot left vacant by Judge Netti C. Vogel. A graduate of University of Connecticut School of Law and The Catholic University of America, McBurney presently serves as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division in the Office of the Attorney General. He also is an instructor at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, Rhode Island State Police Training Academy and the Providence Police Training Academy. McBurney resides in Pawtucket.

District Court

Magistrate James Patrick O’Neill has been nominated to the Rhode Island District Court and will fill the seat vacated by Judge Elaine Bucci. Magistrate O’Neill brings over 24-years of experience, including five years as a District Court Magistrate and ten years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2005 to 2015. A graduate of Colby College and Roger Williams Law School, he now lives in Narragansett with his wife and two daughters.

Debra Saunders has been nominated to the Rhode Island District Court and will fill a newly created seat in the District Court. A graduate of Suffolk Law School and Providence College, Saunders and her husband split their time between Barrington and Newport. Since 2008, Saunders has served as Clerk of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and will bring over 25 years of legal experience to the bench having also worked as Supreme Court Deputy General Counsel, a Special Assistant Attorney General, and in private practice. She is a longstanding member of numerous Supreme Court committees including the Committee on Character and Fitness and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee and is a member of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Nicholas J. Parrillo has been nominated to the Rhode Island District Court. He is a graduate of Rhode Island College and Roger Williams Law School. After law school, Parrillo served as a law clerk for Chief Justice Paul Suttell of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and then served as a public defender for 5 years before going into private practice as a criminal defense lawyer. In addition, Parrillo serves as an elected committee member to the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member on the Justinian Law Society of Rhode Island. He lives in East Providence with his wife, son and dog. He will fill the seat vacated by Judge Christine Jabour.

Workers’ Compensation Court

Moira E. Reynolds has been nominated to the to the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court. A graduate of Providence College and Suffolk University School of Law, Reynolds now lives in North Kingstown with her husband and two children. For over two decades, she has been staff counsel to The Beacon Mutual Insurance Co. She will fill the seat vacated by Judge George Salem.

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