SJC reinstates pay for suspended judge

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019
MBA filed amicus brief seeking salary reinstatement

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The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday revised its order of suspension against District Court Judge Shelley M. Joseph, ruling that the judge should be suspended with pay following her indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant avoid being taken by immigration officials. The revised order makes the reinstatement of pay retroactive to April 25, 2019, the date of the SJC’s initial order, which had suspended the judge without pay.

SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote the majority opinion for the court, writing: “Given the paramount importance of judicial independence, and the possibility that it may be implicated by the indictment here, I conclude that a temporary suspension with pay is appropriate in these highly unusual circumstances.” Justices Scott L. Kafker and Barbara A. Lenk wrote a concurring opinion, and Justice Frank M. Gaziano issued the lone dissent. Justice David A. Lowy was recused from the draecision.

The SJC’s revised order came in response to the motion for partial reconsideration of suspension order filed by Joseph’s attorneys on May 30. The Massachusetts Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of the motion, due to the unprecedented act of suspension of pay without due process. The brief, co-authored by the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, focused solely on the issue of suspension without pay, without due process or precedent to support it. It did not address the underlying federal criminal case.

Read the SJC’s order here.

Read the MBA’s amicus brief here.

The MBA’s brief and MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy were quoted in media reports, including in the Boston Globe, Law 360 and WBUR, following the SJC’s revised order. You can find links to the articles here.