Frank J. Williams is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, a notable Abraham Lincoln scholar and author, and a Justice on the Military Commission Review Panel. He has written and edited fourteen books; contributed chapters to several others; and lectured on Abraham Lincoln throughout the country. He has amassed an unsurpassed private library and archive that ranks among the nation’s largest and finest Lincoln collections.
Born in Richmond, Rhode Island in 1940 to Italian immigrants, he graduated from Cranston East High School. After attending Boston University and Boston University School of Law, Williams received masters in taxation from Bryant University.
From 1962-1967 he served with distinction in the military, achieving the rank of Captian. Williams earned several medals for his service.
Following his discharge, he returned to Richmond to serve as town moderator and town solicitor. In 1995 he was appointed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court and was elevated to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 2001.
President Bush appointed Chief Justice Williams to be a member of the then Military Commissions Review Panel for tribunals to be held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the rank of Major General. He served as Chief Judge as the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Military Commissions from July 2007 until December 2009.
A noted Lincoln scholar, Williams co-founded and chaired the The Lincoln Forum for sixteen years. For 9 years, he served as President of the Abraham Lincoln Association and, for 14 years, as President of The Lincoln Group of Boston. He has written extensively on Lincoln and in 2000, Williams was appointed to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission created by Congress to plan events to commemorate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln in 2009.
Chief Justice Williams is an Associate Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, an organization founded by Union officers who served during the American Civil War, and is also a Veteran Companion of the Military Order of Foreign Wars.
Frank J. Williams stepped down from the Rhode Island Supreme Court at the end of December 2009 amidst controversy. In 2010, Williams retired as supervising judge of the 4th Judicial District. Since then he has lectured at several universities and institutes and served as mediator in Rhode Island courts.In 2014 he was chosen as a “special master” in the pension reform case.
Williams is also an accomplished amateur chef, having appeared as a guest on the cooking show, Ciao Italia, with Mary Ann Esposito.
He has been named by Lawdragon as one of the top 500 judges, out of 30,000 in the United States.