Minicucci sworn in as Workers' Compensation judge
It was tragedy followed by triumph.
On Monday, July 10, 2017, Cranston’s Steven A. Minicucci was sworn in at the Rhode Island State House as the newest Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court by Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Minicucci was surrounded in the State House Rotunda by family, friends and colleagues from his nearly three decades working in the area of personal injury law for John N. Calvino Law Associates, including his work for on the Station Fire cases, his work as a probate judge for the town of Warren, his work in the area of immigrants’ rights, on the City of Cranston’s zoning board, and his teaching at Roger Williams School of Law. Mayor Allan Fung and Chief of Staff Carlos Lopez were present, representing the City of Cranston. Additionally, Minicucci is known for his volunteer work coaching sports in Cranston and as the husband of Christina (Tina) H. Minicucci and as father to their three children, Christopher, Zachary and Victoria Minicucci, who were all by his side on Monday.
Sadly, Minicucci’s father, Salvatore, passed away last week on July 2, at the age of 89, a loss that was on the hearts and minds of all who were present and all those who spoke at the ceremony. Each speaker took the time and expressed their condolences to the Minicucci family, and many shared their own experiences with the loss of a parent at a similar, pivotal point in their own lives, and reminded Minicucci that although his parents were not physically able to be at this ceremony, that they were both there in spirit, and would continue to guide him on this next part of his journey.
Minicucci saw a familiar face leading the day’s events. Mike Montecalvo, Channel 12 news anchor and close friend of Minicucci, served as Master of Ceremonies. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Christopher, Zachary and Victoria Minicucci.
Hon. Paul A. Suttell, Chief Justice, brought greetings on behalf of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
“Steven Minicucci is a well-respected, veteran practitioner in the Workers’ Compensation Court. He is experienced and hardworking, he understands the law, and most importantly when he puts on his black robe, he is not likely putting on airs as well. What you see is what you get,” said Suttell.
He spoke of the empathy and compassion that a judge in the Workers’ Compensation Court must have in addition to the knowledge and understanding of the law. He felt that Minicucci possessed all of those needed skills and abilities. His only concern was the fact that despite Minicucci’s sterling credentials in the area of law, a background check turned up the fact that he was, in fact, a Dallas Cowboys fan, and he joked that this might be a blemish on his otherwise impeccable record, although not a disqualifying factor.
Hon. Robert M. Ferrieri, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court brought greetings and welcomed Minicucci as their newest colleague. Ferrieri cited Minicucci’s hard work and support to all on the job as well as to his family at home, as well as his enthusiasm and his compassion, naming just some of his qualifications for the job.
“Judge Minicucci you are well deserving of your appointment and Governor Raimondo I can’t thank you enough for such an exceptional selection,” he said.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello spoke as a colleague, neighbor and friend to Minicucci as he congratulated him on behalf of the House of Representatives.
“Steve is going to be a great judge. You’ve already heard a lot of his accomplishments, I think his greatest accomplishment, his greatest success is right there,” he said as he gestured to Minicucci’s three children sitting to his right. “I see his wife and his family in the neighborhood all the time. They are a good family unit working together, they’re supporting each other. That’s the generally the measure of a man. That’s the man and the temperament that we will have sitting on the bench of the Workers’ Compensation Court, to do good for people and to help people with their needs, and there is no doubt, Governor Raimondo that you chose very well with Steve Minicucci.”
Sen. Frank Lombardi brought greetings on behalf of the Senate. He spoke to Minicucci’s compassion, his knowledge and his willingness to always assist other lawyers when they were in need, as well as his work as a probate judge, which involved difficult cases in which knowledge and compassion were needed.
“Those cases involved some hotbed issues. I watched as everyone in front of you was made to feel that they had their day in court and that their words were heard in your courtroom. I don’t think there is a single person in this room who would ever question your word, your fairness on a case,” Lombardi said.
At the conclusion of the speaking portion of the ceremony, Governor Gina Raimondo spoke before the official appointment took place.
“My favorite part of these ceremonies is prior to the official part I get to spend a few minutes in my office alone with the family before they come down,” she said. “As I did that this afternoon with Steve and Tina and their three kids, it was clear to me in that time that Steve and Tina’s top priority in their life is their family. You all deserve to be so proud because you’ve earned this day and I have high hopes for you on the bench.” She, too, joked with Minicucci about the fact that it was good that she did not know ahead of time that he was a Dallas Cowboys fan, that it could have possibly put his appointment at risk.
“The first time I met Steve several years ago, at his office, and at the end of the meeting he said, ‘I’m sorry I have to run, I have to go, I have things I have to do’ and this was an important meeting but whatever he had to go to really mattered to him, and he said he’d follow up with me. When he did I asked him where he had to go, and he said he’d had to go to Central Falls where he was doing important work around immigrant rights,” she said. “I thought about this and I thought this is a guy who worked all day for his paying clients but he also had heart. He has used 20 plus years his great skills as a lawyer to help, and to give voice to the voiceless in many of his activities.”
Following the official robing, Minicucci took to the podium to thank those who came to the event and to thank those who have supported him throughout his career, including his parents who had sacrificed much in order for him to attend school early on in his life, his colleagues and friends who have offered him kindness, advice and counsel over time, helping to achieve what was once his dream, now reality.
Immediately following the ceremony, guests had the opportunity to greet Minicucci and his family in a receiving line in the State Room. It was then that Mayor Allan Fung took a moment to speak to Minicucci, presenting him with a citation from the City of Cranston as well as a City of Cranston Challenge Coin, one of the highest honors which can be given from the office of the Mayor and he offered his congratulations and support.
Editor’s note: The author was present as a member of the media and family, as her husband is a cousin of Minicucci’s wife, Tina.