Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants was the 37th chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 2014-2020. He previously served on the court as an associate justice starting in 2009. Prior to joining the court, he served for more than 11 years as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.
Gants was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1954. He then attended Harvard College, graduating summa cum laude
and Phi Beta Kappa in 1976. Gants then completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England the following year. In 1980, he graduated magna cum laude
from Harvard Law School, where he was note editor of the Harvard Law Review
. Following graduation, he served as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson, and then as a special assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster. He worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, and as chief of the Public Corruption Unit there, before joining the Boston law firm formerly known as Palmer & Dodge LLP. Throughout his career, he taught at many law schools in the Massachusetts area.
Gants was co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission for many years and served as the justice liaison to the Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices, and was chair of its Access and Fairness Committee. He was the recipient of many honors and awards throughout his storied career.