Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011
Image for Bench Bar
Top: Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland (left) speaks with MBA President Richard P. Campbell.

Middle (from left to right) Jury Commissioner Pamela J. Wood accepts the Munsterman Award from Robert Baldwin, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Center for State Courts, with SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland, Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies, National Center for State Courts and MBA President Richard P. Campbell.

Bottom (from left to right): SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland, MBA Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and MBA President Richard P. Campbell.

Photos by Mike Ritter/

At Bench–Bar Symposium, Ireland is hopeful, undaunted

In his first address to the legal community since his confirmation as the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court last year, Roderick L. Ireland spoke of his hopes for the judicial branch -- including adequate funding -- and reaffirmed his commitment to the priorities he established in December.

"The judicial branch is at a turning point," Ireland said during his address at the Massachusetts Bar Association's annual Bench-Bar Symposium on Oct. 13. "How we in the judiciary handle these changes will affect the quality of justice in the Commonwealth for years to come. We cannot be paralyzed by unfolding events, but must embrace them as new opportunities."

The judiciary's budget woes were the first topic Ireland addressed in his speech. He shared the positive news that the House of Representatives proposed and the state Senate agreed to a supplemental appropriation for the Trial Court. Ireland thanked House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray for their support of the bill, and expressed his hope that Gov. Deval Patrick would approve the appropriation.

Ireland spent the rest of his speech revisiting the three priorities he established for the judiciary at his swearing-in ceremony last December: building bridges to the courts' constituencies; making the courts more accessible to the public; and educating the public, particularly the youth of the commonwealth, about the role of the courts.

"We find ourselves at a time when few people can correctly identify the three branches of government," said Ireland, who said the MBA's Tiered Mentoring Program is an example of a program that helps young people better understand the court system. "There is widespread public misunderstanding about the role of judges and the importance of an independent judiciary. I want to make the judicial branch a force in civic education, particularly about the role of the courts and the rule of law, and especially for young people."

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