Poore chosen as municipal court judge

Poore chosen as municipal court judge

SMITHFIELD - The new - and first- municipal court judge here is lawyer William A. Poore, a former town solicitor who in the past has been associated with Democratic administrations but this time was chosen by a Republican-led Town Council.

Poore, appointed to a term that expires next January shortly after a new council will take over, was the unanimous selection earlier this month by a council with a 3-2 Republican majority.

The part-time court, to hold its sessions in Town Hall, was authorized several years ago, but the council for economy reasons never appointed the judge needed to get it off the ground.

The council decided to move ahead at the request of Town Manager Dennis Finlay.

The court will deal with zoning and minimum housing code violations, and with health violations involving housing.

It will not hear traffic cases, which will remain under the authority of the State Traffic Tribunal.

According to Finlay, details of how often the court will convene, and whether it will do so during the day or at night, are yet to be worked out, with those decisions largely up to Poore, a town resident who will be paid $7,000 annually. Poore said he will consider the convenience of town residents in deciding on a court schedule.

The new judge, who is affiliated with the Providence law firm Poore and Rosenbaum, served various terms as solicitor and deputy solicitor for two decades until the early 2000s, always under Democratic administrations.

Incumbent Republican Council President Alberto LaGreca Jr. said he supported Poore, who was solicitor during some of his previous terms on the council, because "he's well qualified and well respected," and because he is familiar with Smithfield's government operations.

LaGreca also cited Poore's long experience as a mediator, adding "He always made decisions in the best interest of the town, so I don't care what party he comes from."

LaGreca said the council reviewed the applications of several other candidates, but decided after interviewing Poore first that his qualifications and local expertise set him apart and that further interviews were unnecessary.

Poore, 65, was a court-appointed special master for the review of payouts to surviving victims and to families of those who died in the Station Night Club fire, and was a negotiator for West Warwick in 2004 when a casino was proposed for that town.

In the 1990s, he successfully defended the state and the now-defunct St. Aloysius Catholic orphanage on Austin Avenue, now Mater Ecclesiae College, against charges by a state ward that he was sexually abused at the orphanage after being placed there by the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

A native of Maryland, Poore earned a bachelor's degree from Providence College and his law degree from Suffolk University in 1973. He then entered the Army, serving in the Judge Advocate General Corps.

He and his family settled in Smithfield in the late 1970s.