- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr., retired chief judge of Rhode Island’s Family Court who was honored for innovations during his 24-year tenure, has died at the age of 80.

Jeremiah’s death Sunday was confirmed by state Judiciary spokesman Craig Berke on Monday.

Jeremiah was appointed to the Family Court in 1986 and became its top judge in 1987. He oversaw the creation of the Juvenile Drug Court, the Family Treatment Court and the Mental Health Court Clinic, programs aimed at addressing the causes of youth and family problems that came before the court. He retired in 2010.

“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,” said Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell, who served with Jeremiah on the court for 13 years.

“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,” Suttell said.

State Attorney General Peter Kilmartin called Jeremiah “a fair and deliberate jurist who strived not merely to punish, but to teach juveniles how to be productive members of our community.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he practiced as a young attorney before Jeremiah. He said the judge “helped countless families work their way through difficulties and helped improve the lives of countless children.”

Jeremiah was named judge of the year in 2005 by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The American Bar Association awarded him the Scripps Howard Foundation’s “Distinguished Service to Literacy Award.”

Jeremiah had undergraduate and law degrees from Boston University. He was Cranston’s city solicitor from 1978 to 1984. When former Cranston mayor Edward DiPrete became governor in 1985, Jeremiah became his executive counsel, and DiPrete later appointed him to the Family Court.

Jeremiah is survived by his wife, Theresa, and three daughters.

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