Rhode Island is small. Very small. But small enough to require semi-retired justices of the state supreme court to move in with the deputies who double as their drivers?
The state's longtime Chief Justice Frank Williams took initial retirement last year, but then stuck around as a kind of emeritus justice, still deciding cases, receiving a per diem while drawing his pension--what they call "double dipping" around these parts.
Being the sixth member of a five-member court must have felt natural to semi-ex-Justice Williams, since in his private life he was (judging solely from appearances, and then only when viewed through the prism of a gutter-dwelling mind) living out the dictum that ménage à trois isn't just a pretty good mass-market wine.
His chauffeuse (well, that's what this on-line dictionary says is the feminine form), Pamela J. DosReis, also provided security at his courtroom digs. You can see the pair together here, and if you read down you'll read excerpts from Mr. DosReis's divorce court testimony:
He testified that during the period from Christmas 2005 through August 2009, Williams visited their home at least five times a week. He said that Williams played with the daughter and watched her while she bathed in the tub. DosReis said that he never tried to end the family’s relationship with Williams.
He's not the only one. But, you'll be pleased to know, it all has an innocent explanation. Unfortunately, though, it's the same explanation used by Judge Hecht (see post 401), though I trust a good deal more innocent: "The chief justice and his wife took a personal interest in a young woman. ... There was nothing unseemly or untoward about anything they did."
The PR guy's use of the plural "they" makes that last statement believable. The "young woman" in question is the couple's daughter, the bather, whose private school fees Williams paid. But Williams' interest was multi-generational: "the then-chief justice two years ago hired Mrs. DosReis’s mother, Patricia Celise, as a janitor at the court, under the title of 'administrative aide.'"
The Projo--which sounds like an anime bad guy, but is the Providence Journal's nickname for itself--called for Williams' final, terminal retirement, and on the following day the justice obliged, explaining his reasons: "[T]he media accounts are causing an unwarranted and unnecessary distraction for the court. The welfare of the judiciary has always been extremely important to me. I do not want it adversely affected by personal and collateral matters."
And it's true about him being a distraction. Members of the court were indeed thinking about him instead of doing their work. For instance, current chief justice Paul Suttell "was in discussions with top court administrators about the retired justice’s future role with the court."
And it's also true that Williams had every reason to blame his bizarre fall from grace on the media. After all, he wasn't disgraced by what he did, but by the fact that it became widely known. His downfall consisted of acquiring the reputation he had long deserved. (See post 272.)