Deval Patrick nominates Springfield native Roderick Ireland to be chief justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Published: Thursday, November 04, 2010, 10:03 AM
The Associated Press
Justice Roderick L. Ireland embraces well-wishers after receiving the oath of office, becoming the first black Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 1997 at the State House in Boston. (AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho)
Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Roderick Ireland through the years gallery (14 photos)
GLEN JOHNSON, AP Political Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts, is nominating Roderick L. Ireland to be the first black chief justice of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, two top Massachusetts Democrats said Thursday.
Ireland, currently the senior associate justice on the high court, would replace the retiring Chief Justice Margaret Marshall if he’s confirmed by the Governor’s Council. The Democrats confirmed Ireland’s nomination on the condition of anonymity in advance of a Statehouse news conference with the governor.
The chief justice administers the seven-member court and oversees the Massachusetts trial and appellate court systems.
A principle power is the authority to decide which justice writes an opinion. Marshall reserved that for herself in 2003 when she authored the court’s 4-3 decision to make Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage.
In nominating Ireland, Patrick also gets a second appointment to the court. If he’s confirmed, Patrick will get to pick Ireland’s replacement as associate justice.
The accomplishments of Roderick L. Ireland, who is among the judges said to be under review by Gov. Deval L. Patrick for appointment as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court:
Education: Springfield Classical High School, 1962; Lincoln University, 1966; Columbia Law School, 1969; Harvard University Law School, 1975; Northeastern University, Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society Program, 1997
Legal: Neighborhood Legal Services, New York City, 1969-70; Harvard Center for Law and Education, 1970-71; Roxbury Defenders Committee, Boston, 1971-73; Harvard Law School teaching fellow, 1974; Massachusetts Civil Service Commission hearing officer, 1973-75; Executive Office for Administration and Finance general counsel, 1975-77; Roxbury District Court Clinic legal counsel, 1974-77
Judiciary: Boston Juvenile Court, 1977-90; Massachusetts Appeals Court, 1990-1997; Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1997-present
Marshall announced her retirement in July, saying she wanted to spend more time with her ailing husband, former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis. Patrick asked her to stay until after Tuesday’s election to avoid politicizing his selection. The governor, a Democrat, ended up winning a second term.
Ireland was appointed to the court in 1997 after having previously served on the Massachusetts Appeals Court for seven years and the Boston Juvenile Court for almost 13 years.
He received his bachelors from Lincoln University, his juris doctorate from Columbia University Law School, a masters from Harvard Law School and a doctorate from Northeastern University.
All court nominees in Massachusetts have to be approved by the Governor’s Council, a nine-member panel led by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray.
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