Frank J. Williams
|39th Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court|
|Appointed by||Lincoln Almond|
|Preceded by||Joseph R. Weisberger|
|Succeeded by||Paul Suttell|
|Born||August 24, 1940|
Richmond, Rhode Island
Boston University School of Law
|Civilian awards||Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois|
The Order of Lincoln
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Military awards||Combat Infantryman Badge|
Bronze Star Medal
Three Air Medals
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Frank J. Williams (born August 24, 1940) is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, a notable Abraham Lincoln scholar and author, and a Justice of the Military Commission Review Panel.
Frank Williams was born in Richmond, Rhode Island in 1940, ″the grandson of Italian immigrant parents.″ He graduated from Cranston East High School, Boston University and Boston University School of Law, and he received masters in taxation from Bryant University.
From 1962 to 1967, he served as a captain in the U.S. Army and was stationed in West Germany and South Vietnam. His military awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge and Bronze Star Medal, three Air Medals and the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two campaign stars the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with silver citation star and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal for his military service.
He served as town moderator of Richmond, Rhode Island, and town solicitor. Governor Lincoln Almond appointed Williams to the Supreme Court in 1995. He was elevated to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 2001.
Beach access ruling
Williams ruled in a 1997 case involving public access to the Narragansett Town Beach. It had long been accepted that the Rhode Island Constitution guarantees free access to all state shorelines by means of walking along the shoreline below the high tide line (a right called "lateral access"). Activists at the Narragansett Town beach argued that this right also includes unobstructed access from the land (called "perpendicular access").
Williams sided with the Town of Narragansett, ruling in court that Rhode Island's Constitution "provides absolutely no indication that a right of perpendicular access across the property of others exists," and therefore the town was within their rights to charge an access fee. As of 2021, Narragansett Town Beach remains the only public beach in the state which charges for beach access.
Court of Military Commission Review
In 2003, President Bush appointed Williams through the Secretary of Defense to be a member of the United States Court of Military Commission Review. As of July 2007, he replaced Griffin Bell as the Chief Judge. He served as Chief Judge of the US Court of Military Commissions until December 2009.
He was a member of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was the founding chair of The Lincoln Forum, served as its chair for 23 years, and is now emeritus chair. Williams was president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Lincoln Group of Boston, and currently serves as president of The Ulysses S. Grant Association. In 2010, Williams was elected to the board of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. Justice Williams is an Associate Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, an organization founded by Union officers who served during the American Civil War, and is also a Veteran Companion of the Military Order of Foreign Wars. Williams was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2009 as a Bicentennial Laureate.
Frank J. Williams stepped down from the Rhode Island Supreme Court at the end of December 2009 and has lectured at several universities and institutes, most notably at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Williams is also an accomplished amateur chef, having appeared as a guest on the cooking show, Ciao Italia, with Mary Ann Esposito.
Frank J. Williams was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2009 as a Bicentennial Laureate.
"Military Commission Review Panel Takes Oath of Office". Department of Defense. 2004-09-22. Archived from the original on 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
Chief Justice Frank Williams, chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Williams was as an associate justice of the Superior Court of Rhode Island from 1995 to 2001. He served as an Army captain in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star for Valor. He earned his law degree from Boston University in 1970 and a master's degree in taxation from Bryant College in 1986.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Jason Jones. "Navy Judges Lend Expertise to the Court of Military Commission Review" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Lincoln Lessons: Reflections on America's Greatest Leader, edited by Frank J. Williams and William D. Pederson, p. 160. j. williams italian&f=false
- Farzan, Antonia Noori (2 September 2021). "The little-known story of why Narragansett Town Beach can charge to get on the sand". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 2 September 2021. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
- Chief Justice Frank Williams steps down, "The Chariho Times" (December 23, 2008).
- "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved 2016-03-07.