Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
2002 No Action

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June 6, 2002


In accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island General Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 2002-H 6968, Substitute A, "An Act Relating to Courts and Civil Procedure - Courts - District Court."

Section 1 of this bill would allow the Chief Judge of the District Court to appoint any member of the Rhode Island bar, not just deputy clerks, as district court clerk/magistrates. Section 2, which was later added to the bill, would divest the Governor of the right to appoint the clerk of the Rhode Island Supreme Court every five years with the advice and consent of the Senate. It would instead confer that authority on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate.

I have no difficulty with the original version of the bill. My problem is with the Substitute A, which is little more than another power grab by the Senate. For over 60 years, the Governor of this State has appointed the chief clerk with the advice and consent of the Senate.

I have sympathy for the view of the Supreme Court Chief Justice (who I proudly appointed) that he should be able to make his own selection of clerk without interference from the other branches of government. As such, I would not disapprove of a bill that actually accomplished that. This bill, however, does not. While the Senate sees fit to exclude the Governor completely, it steadfastly refuses to relinquish its power to have a say in who the next chief clerk is. This is not fair to future Governors. This bill is therefore just another tragic example of institutional disrespect by the legislature for the Office of the Governor - a disrespect that would not occur in a constitutional government with properly separated powers between the legislature and the executive.

For these reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond