Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey announces retirement

Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021
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Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey

Hon. Paula M. Carey, chief justice of the Trial Court, has announced that she will retire from the Trial Court in January 2022. Carey was appointed to a five-year term by the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), which she began on July 16, 2013, and reappointed to a second term in 2018 pursuant to G. L. 211B, §6. 

On behalf of the justices of the SJC, Chief Justice Kimberly Budd said: "Chief Justice Carey is passionate about delivering justice to the people in the Commonwealth. With unflagging energy, she has worked to improve access to justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who work in and use our courts. She has shepherded the Trial Court through many advancements and steered the departments through the pandemic with perseverance and determination. With her energy and leadership, Chief Justice Carey has made an indelible mark on the judiciary, and all of us in the courts, the bar and the Commonwealth owe her a large debt of gratitude."

The chief justice of the Trial Court is the policy and judicial head of the Trial Court, which includes the Boston Municipal, District, Housing, Juvenile, Land, Probate and Family, and Superior courts; the Office of the Commissioner of Probation; and the Office of Jury Commissioner. The chief justice has authority over all matters of judicial policy, appoints the departmental chief justices, and oversees case flow management and the establishment of programs and procedures to continuously improve access to justice by all segments of the commonwealth's population. The chief justice partners with the court administrator to oversee all administrative aspects of the Trial Court, which is composed of 385 judges, 6,300 staff, a $779.9 million budget and 97 courthouses.  

"I have absolutely loved my work with the Massachusetts Trial Court, first as a judge, then as the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department, and as Chief Justice of the Trial Court," said Carey. "I continue to have the same passions I have always had and will continue to work towards racial equity and access to justice for all. Retirement for me is not an ending, but the beginning of a different life committed to the same principles, just in a different way that permits me to attend to the imminent needs of my loved ones."

As chief justice of the Trial Court, Carey created the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Experience in 2018 to impact policy, awareness and training. She built strong partnerships with the executive branch to ensure the success of major systemic improvements, including the recent Eviction Diversion Initiative, a comprehensive set of resources to support tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the pandemic. She also held a leadership role in the development of a data-driven justice reinvestment approach to reduce reoffending, contain corrections spending and invest in strategies to increase public safety.  

Within the Trial Court, she formed a Language Access Advisory Committee to create a comprehensive language access plan to enhance access to justice; significantly increased collaboration across Trial Court departments to create consistent policies and practices to better serve the bar and the public; and expanded judicial mentoring and leadership development. As chief justice of the Probate and Family Court, she oversaw the complex implementation of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code. 

Massachusetts Bar Association Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy said: "Chief Justice Carey’s retirement caps an impressive career of service to others, from her days as a highly respected family law practitioner who once chaired the MBA's Family Law Section to her remarkable run as a judge and court leader. Our Trial Court is in a better place today because of her hard work and dedication. I’m personally grateful for all the opportunities we’ve had to collaborate together on shared initiatives over the years and appreciate how accessible and supportive she’s been to all of us at the MBA. We wish her all the best on her well-earned retirement."

Prior to her initial appointment as chief justice of the Trial Court in May of 2013, Carey had served as chief justice of the Probate and Family Court since 2007. She was first appointed to the Probate and Family Court in 2001 as a circuit judge and then served as an associate justice in Norfolk County.

Carey received the Boston Bar Association’s (BBA) Haskell Cohn Distinguished Judicial Service Award in 2011, as well as the Freedman Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Scholar-Mentor Award, and the Middlesex Bar Association's Distinguished Jurist Award. She is also a past recipient of the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers Distinguished Jurist Award, the Daniel F. Toomey Excellence in Judiciary Award, and the Massachusetts Judges Conference Probate and Family Court Judicial Excellence Award. 

Prior to her appointment as a judge, she co-founded the firm Carey and Mooney PC, a family law practice. While in private practice, she chaired the Family Law Section of the MBA and served on the Family Law Steering Committee of the BBA. Carey graduated magna cum laude from New England Law | Boston.