MBA statements on retirements of Justices Spina, Duffly

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016
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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.)

Spina statement:

"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."

Duffly statement:

"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 some time."