Brief bios of the SJC Justices – who will the new Chief Justice be?

1.  It WILL be a direct appointment “like chief Justice Roberts” probably… though it could be one of the other Justices, each very accomplished and well known in their own right, some of them with long term service as judges on the Superior court;

2.  Here is the “cast” of Massachusetts Supreme Court Justices:

A.  Margaret Marshall herself  As a former anti-apartheid activist and judicial scholar, I do not think her timing is political.  Her union with Anthony Lewis, the author of Gideon’s Trumpet is a well known, long term union of unusual depth, commitment, and agape.  Margaret Marshall and Anthony Lewis have put one another first for decades.

B.  Roderick Ireland the first African American Justice appointed to the SJC in its 300 year history.  Formerly, a judge in the Juvenile Court well acquainted with the role of the court in addressing the social needs of the community before they become lethal emergencies.  He is a graduate of Columbia University Law School, also holding an LLM from Harvard Law School.

C.  Francis X. Spina  Justice Spina is a native of Western Massachusetts, with a degree from UMASS Amherst and Boston College Law School.  Prior to serving on the SJC, he has worked in legal services, as a prosecutor, as a city solictor and as a judge.  He has unusual familiarity with governance as well as law.

D.  Judith A. Cowin Justice Cowin is a native of Boston.  She has an undergraduate

degree from Wellesley College, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.  Her area of expertise is mental health law, and considerable experience with criminal jury trials as a prosecutor.

E.  Robert D. Cordy  Justice Cordy’s undergraduate degree is from Dartmouth and his J.D. is from Harvard Law.  Justice Cordy began is career representing indigent accused for the Mass Defenders.  As a federal prosecutor, he headed the anti-corruption unit unit when William Weld was the U.S. Attorney.  Justice Cordy was also Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Weld, and is extremely well acquainted with the budget process, and political process on Beacon Hill, and a tough-minded jurist with serious experience heading a large staff.  While I don’t expect anyone to ask me, I think Justice Cordy would be a superb choice to step up when Chief Justice Marshall retires.  He represents an unusual combination of administrative and legal experience.

F. Justice Margot Botsford is one of the newer justices, appointed in 2007 by Governor Patrick.  Her undergraduate degree is from Barnard College; her law degree from Northeastern.  She is a thoughtful, careful legal writer and researcher who as Special Master in the Hancock v. Driscoll case issued a 300 page Master’s decision.

G.  Ralph D. Gants  Justice Gants graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard College.  He holds a degree in Criminology from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and a law degree from Harvard.  Justice Gants also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney heading the anti-corruption unit.  Judge Gants has a reputation as a “judge’s judge”, and experience in almost every sector of law, including as Chief Administrative Justice of the Business Litigation Session.  Judge Gant’s is perhaps the best legal writer on the SJC Bench.

I have appeared before the Supreme Judicial Court many times.  For those who would like to “see them in action”, and haven’t stood before them as I have, there is an archive of oral arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court.  That archive is available 7/24 and you can see what kind of questions each member of the SJC Bench asks, how they handle themselves, and what they care about.

Anonymous?  Not at all.  But the impact on the Commonwealth of the next chief justice will be very great and YOU should inform yourselves.  I have also posted this information on BMG.  

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