In Memorium - Hon. William C. Clifton, Sr.

The Hon. William C. “Wild Bill” Clifton, Sr., was universally known, respected and beloved for his wit, his joi de vivre, his sense of adventure, his adoration of his family, and his unflagging wisdom on the RI District Court bench.

Judge Clifton graduated from California State Univ. at Los Angeles and UCLA Law school, after which he first served as a staff attorney for Clark County/Las Vegas, Nevada Legal Services before become the first African American Special Asst. RI Attorney General for the State of Rhode Island. He went on to serve as Legal Counsel to the RI Commissioner of Education before cofounding the law Providence-based firm of Stone, Clifton & Clifton, and later, William Clifton and Associates. During his illustrious legal career, Judge Clifton also served as legal counsel for the Public Utilities Commission, Hearing Officer for the State Department of Environmental Management, and Asst. City Solicitor for the City of Cranston, RI.

After his elevation to the District Court in 2004, Judge Clifton quickly earned the reputation as a consummate jurist admired for both his intellectual acumen and judicial temperament, becoming a favorite of Judical colleagues, the court personnel working with him, lawyers practicing before him, and the litigants appearing in his Court. Judge Clifton was also an avid pilot, and renowned for his legendary barbecuing skills.

Arguably his deepest and most lasting contribution to the people of the State, Judge led by example with his lifelong belief in the priority and importance of giving back to the community, evidenced by career-long service on numerous boards and committees such as the RI Employers’ Committee for the Support of the Guard and Reserves, the Providence Branch of the NAACP, RI Committee for the Humanities, Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, Trinity Repertory Company Public, the RI Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness, Paul Cuffee School, and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. He also made time to mentor numerous young people, encouraging them to pursue their life’s passions and goals.

During the R.I. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings regarding his judicial nomination, Judge Clifton noted that as a young man in his native State of Texas, “I lived the American nightmare of second-class citizenship and segregation…yet, I also accomplished the American Dream: I worked hard, I studied hard and made something of myself. That paradox kind of shapes me and keeps me on the straight and narrow.”

Today, 5/27, In History

in 1870 - Michael Howard becomes first Black admitted to West Point Military Academy

To Inspire You

Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.


Booker T. Washington

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