The Massachusetts Bar Association issued statements in reaction
to the news that Supreme Judicial Court Justices Francis X. Spina
and Fernande R.V. Duffly have announced their retirements from the
court. Spina's retirement is effective August 12, 2016, and
Duffly's is effective as of July 12, 2016. (Earlier this month,
Justice Robert J. Cordy also announced his retirement from the
court, effective the end of August 2016.)
"The Hon. Francis X. Spina has lived up to his reputation as an
independent thinker and scholarly judge who stands strong for the
unique safeguards the Massachusetts Constitution affords its
citizens," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy. "Justice
Spina's measured approach to each case before him distinguished his
work throughout his tenure."
Noting that Spina is a former MBA secretary, Healy added:
"Justice Spina shunned the celebrity that often comes with his
status on the commonwealth's top court, but he never turned down an
opportunity to spend time with lawyers and give back to the
profession. The legal community has benefited immensely by Justice
Spina's outreach as an ambassador between bench and bar, which
mirrored the collegial approach for which he was known when he was
a practicing lawyer."
"Justice Duffly has contributed an invaluable perspective as a
former Probate & Family Court judge, which informed her ability
to grasp complex issues and understand the human element in the
cases before the court," said MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W.
Healy. "While she blazed her own trail as the first Asian-American
on the Supreme Judicial Court, Justice Duffly should also be
commended for her efforts to increase the number of women and
minority lawyers, law firm partners and judges. Our legal system is
better today because of her contributions."
With retirement announcements from three SJC justices this month
and two others -- Justice Margot G. Botsford and Justice Geraldine
S. Hines -- due to reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in
2017, Governor Charlie Baker will be able to appoint as many
justices (five) in one term as his predecessor, Governor Deval
Patrick, did in two terms.
"These retirements create a historic opportunity for Governor
Baker to make an immediate and lasting impact on the future makeup
of the SJC," said Healy. "This will be a brand new court with very
little institutional knowledge, so it will be interesting to see
how things play out. We're not likely to see this again for quite