'First' Judge Steps Down in Rhode Island
Arthur Votolato is a record-setter.
He was the first bankruptcy judge to sit in Rhode Island, and for 44 years, he was the only U.S. bankruptcy judge to serve the state. He also enjoyed the distinction of being the longest continuously serving active bankruptcy judge in U.S. history.
This week Votolato, 81, retired.
“I was fortunate to work in both a changing and rewarding profession," said Votolato. "It was a great honor to serve the people of Rhode Island for more than four decades and I will enjoy slowing down and spending time with my family and caring for myself.”
On Tuesday, people filled the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Rhode Island in Providence to celebrate Votolato’s career and dedicate the courtroom in his name. Included in the group was veteran Rhode Island bankruptcy lawyer Diane Finkle, who has been selected to fill Votolato’s seat, and will become the second bankruptcy judge in the history of the state.
The courtroom Votolato has presided in since 1982 was dedicated in his honor with a plaque.
Votolato was appointed the U.S. District Court's Bankruptcy referee in 1968 and when a separate U.S. Bankruptcy Court was created in Rhode Island in 1978, he was named its first and only judge.
Bankruptcy judges are appointed to 14-year terms by the 12 regional courts of appeals.