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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s justice system is mourning the loss of highly-respected District Court Judge William Clifton.

A judiciary spokesman said Clifton died over the weekend of an undisclosed illness. He was 75.

District Court Chief Judge Jeanne LaFazia told The Providence Journal that Clifton “was loved and respected by everyone” and “was kind, caring and thoughtful in all that he did.”

Clifton was appointed to the bench in 2004 by former Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri. At the time, he was one of just a few minority judges in Rhode Island.

He told the Journal at the time that growing up poor and black in segregated San Antonio, Texas, made him feel like a second-class citizen. He said his strong parents, education and hard work lifted him up.