April 22, 2022

The Honorable Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson

Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit


The Honorable Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson
The Honorable Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson

The Honorable Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson is the first Black person and the second woman to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, comprising Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Puerto Rico. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The circuit courts are one level below the U.S. Supreme Court in the federal judiciary.

Judge Thompson has long been a trailblazer in the legal profession. She made history in 1988 when Gov. Edward DiPrete appointed her a judge on the R.I. District Court. She was appointed a judge on the R.I. Superior Court nine years later, becoming the first Black woman to hold both positions.

Judge Thompson grew up in segregated South Carolina. Her great-grandmother was an enslaved person on a plantation owned by her great-grandfather. She came to Rhode Island to study at Pembroke College, then the women’s college of Brown University, graduating from Brown in 1973. She earned a juris doctor degree from Boston University School of Law in 1976.

Before becoming a judge, she had a law career with Thompson & Thompson, McKinnon and Fortunato, and Rhode Island Legal Services, and was assistant city solicitor for the city of Providence.

An author and consultant, she has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Board of Fellows and Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at Brown University, the Rhode Island Save The Bay Leadership Council, the Roger Williams University School of Law Board of Directors, and the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission.

Judge Thompson received the Trailblazer Award from the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, the Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Women of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Northern Rhode Island, and the Dr. Americo W. Petrocelli Distinguished Service Award from the College Crusade of Rhode Island. She holds honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island, Bryant University, Roger Williams University School of Law, Johnson & Wales University, and Brown University.

In late 2021 Judge Thompson announced plans to take senior status, a form of semi-retirement, once her replacement has been announced by President Biden.

Judge Thompson and her late husband, R.I. District Court Judge William C. Clifton, were the parents of three.

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