Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr., the former chief judge of RI's Family Court, died Sunday at age 80, a court spokesman said.
Courts spokesman Craig Berke said details were not immediately available on the cause of Judge Jeremiah's death.
According to Berke, Jeremiah was appointed associate justice of the Family Court in March 1986. A year later, in March 1987, he was sworn in as Chief Judge. He retired June 30, 2010. Jeremiah previously served in the Cranston City Solicitor’s office from 1963 to 1984, and as executive counsel for then-Governor Edward DiPrete from 1984 to 1986.
Jeremiah had undergraduate and legal degrees from Boston University. He is survived by his wife, Theresa, and three daughters. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.
In a statement, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said, "The Senate is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Judge Jeremiah. He recognized the unique power of the Family Court to help change lives for the better. Judge Jeremiah’s innovations led not just the state but the nation to find new ways to address problems. He helped countless Rhode Islanders through the establishment of programs such as the Family Treatment Drug Court, the Mental Health Court Clinic, and the Truancy Court. The thoughts and prayers of the Senate are with Judge Jeremiah’s family and loved ones during this difficult time."
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Judge Jeremiah. As a young attorney, I was fortunate enough to practice before him. I found him to be tough but fair to all the parties involved and he was extremely knowledgeable about the issues. He helped countless families work their way through difficulties and helped improve the lives of countless children. He was a great jurist and will be missed by all of us in the legal community. The House of Representatives is saddened and we will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Added Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell, who served as an associate justice in Family Court with Jeremiah for 13 years: “The Family Court’s problem-solving calendars are evidence of Chief Judge Jeremiah’s creative leadership, but first and foremost he was a family man. It was his love and respect of children that he brought to his work in the court. In all his decisions involving wayward or delinquent children, he was always motivated by what he believed was necessary and in the best interest of the particular child who appeared before him. I never knew him to give up on a child. He drew upon every resource available to the court to give a child the opportunity to lead a productive life. He had a positive influence on countless youths throughout his career.”
This post has been updated.