Patronage Clerkship Hire Contributes to Smith Hill’s Poor Reputation

The Providence Journal reported yesterday that

Former state Sen. Rhoda Perry will return to the State House this week, for a hearing — by her former colleagues — on her qualifications for her new “$69,243 to $78,493” job as the Superior Court clerk for Washington County.

From a browse around Google, it appears that court clerkships are normally filled by law school grads or attorneys. (Please correct if this is wrong.)

But Rhoda Perry is neither. Rather, she is a former senator and one who was reportedly close to the Senate President. Accordingly, rather than a hiring on the basis of qualification and experience, this looks like the distribution of political booty to a loyal legislative soldier.

While not corruption in the criminal sense, such a hire is corruption in the larger sense as it is made on the basis of patronage ties rather than what is best for the state and the court system. It is only the latest in a long line of actions (add tolls and legislative grants to this list) that significantly damages the image of Smith Hill as a place where they shoot straight and play clean.

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