McConnell to be sworn in once Obama signs commission

Providence's Federal Building

Jack McConnell will likely take his seat on the federal bench in Providence before the Fourth of July, the clerk of the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island said Thursday morning.

After a two-year battle, the U.S. Senate voted 50-44 on Wednesday to confirm President Obama’s nominee to the vacant seat. The final step in Washington will be for the president to make it official by signing McConnell’s judicial commission, David DiMarzio, the district court’s clerk, told WPRI.com.

The commission is a large, engraved document. A White House press aide was not immediately able to say when Obama would sign McConnell’s, but he will likely do so within a matter of days.

Once the president does that, the court’s local staff will work with McConnell to coordinate the timing of his swearing-in ceremony. “Those details are evolving now, because all of this happened so quickly,” DiMarzio said, adding that more information should be released “very shortly.”

The ceremony is likely to take place within the next two months, and possibly much sooner. “I think it’ll be fairly quickly – it’s just a matter of how quickly we can get together the logistics, if you will,” DiMarzio said. The state’s U.S. senators, who are closely involved in the judicial confirmation process, usually attend the event.

It’s also possible there will be two ceremonies – a private swearing-in to make McConnell a judge and let him get to work on the trial court’s backlog of cases, followed by a public one with more pomp and circumstance; that’s what appellate Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson did last year.

McConnell will be able to decide who should administer the oath and where it should take place, but traditionally local appointees have been sworn in by the chief judge – currently Mary M. Lisi – in the ceremonial court room No. 1 of Providence’s historic five-story federal building along Kennedy Plaza.

The U.S. District Court in Rhode Island is the state’s federal trial court and has jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases.

Once McConnell is sworn in, there will be nine judges assigned to the district court: Chief Judge Lisi and District Judges William Smith and McConnell; Senior Judges Ronald Lagueux and Ernest Torres, the latter of whom is inactive; Magistrate Judges David Martin and Lincoln Almond; and recalled Magistrate Judges Jacob Hagopian and Robert Lovegreen, who fill in when needed.

(photo: U.S. General Services Administration, via Wikipedia)

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