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Sheldon W.
Democrat RI

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  • Tribute to Judge Haiganush R. Bedrosian

    by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

    Posted on 2015-12-10

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    WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, as this year draws to a close, so too does a long and accomplished legal career for Rhode Island Family Court Chief Judge Haiganush R. Bedrosian. She will retire from the bench at the end of December after serving on the family court for over 35 years. Judge Bedrosian is a trailblazer and a skilled leader in the Rhode Island legal community. She will be missed.

    Judge Bedrosian, the daughter of Armenian immigrants, is a lifelong Rhode Islander who grew up in Cranston. She attended Cranston East High School and then Brown University's Pembroke College, where she graduated with a degree in political science in 1965.

    She says that when she graduated from Pembroke, she was told ``women don't go to law school'' and she had best look for work elsewhere. That didn't sound right to her.

    Judge Bedrosian enrolled at Suffolk Law School, where she excelled. She earned a clerkship with Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Thomas Paolino. After her clerkship, she rose quickly in the legal profession, serving as an assistant general counsel for the Providence & Worcester Railroad, representing children in private practice and serving as a special assistant to the Rhode Island Attorney General in the Criminal Division.

    In 1980, Rhode Island Governor J. Joseph Garrahy nominated her to serve on Rhode Island's family court, making her the first woman to sit on the family court bench. Over the course of her tenure, she has built a reputation for fairness, compassion, and thorough command of the law. She has deftly handled some of the most complex and difficult cases to come before the Court.

    She rose to the position of chief judge on the family court in 2010-- another first for a woman in Rhode Island--where she has proven herself an able leader. She has promoted mediation as a way to resolve challenging family disputes more quickly and with less stress on the parties involved. She has advocated for improvements to the way juveniles are treated in our justice system, both at the State and Federal levels. She has worked to combat human trafficking and sexual violence. And she has expanded the family treatment drug court, a smart and effective program to address drug offenses that involve youth and families.

    In addition to her good work in the courtroom, Judge Bedrosian has contributed a great deal to her community. She remains a committed member of the congregation of Saints Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Providence where she is a frequent volunteer. She has also founded and served as president of the Rhode Island Trial Judges Association.

    We will miss Judge Bedrosian's steady hand and compassionate, reasoned rulings on the bench. But we wish her well in the next chapter of her life. Best of luck, Your Honor. ____________________

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