Member Spotlight

Issue December 2005

Massachusetts Bar Association officers past and present were named "Super Lawyers" in Law & Politics magazine's top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts for 2005.

MBA President Warren Fitzgerald and Treasurer David White-Lief made the list of the top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts, according to Law & Politics. MBA Vice-President Valerie Yarashus was recognized as one of the top 50 female Super Lawyers in Massachusetts.

Former MBA President Leo V. Boyle (1990-1991) of Meehan Boyle Black & Fitzgerald in Boston, was one of the top ten Super Lawyers for 2005.

Other MBA leaders who made the top 100 list include: Nadine Cohen, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Boston; Michael A. Collora, Dwyer & Collora, Boston; William Joseph Leahy, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Boston; Michael E. Mone, Esdaile Barrett & Esdaile, Boston; Richard D. "Packy" Packenham, Packenham, Schmidt & Federico, Boston; Stephanie Page, Committee for Public Counsel ServicesÐPublic Defender Division, Boston; Charles Wesley Rankin, Rankin & Sultan, Boston; Camille F. Sarrouf, Sarrouf Tarricone & Flemming, Boston; Max Daniel Stern, Stern Shapiro Weissberg & Garin, Boston; and J. Owen Todd, Todd & Weld, Boston.

In addition to a glossy, 50-page magazine called "Massachusetts Super Lawyers 2005," Law & Politics also published the survey as a 40-page special advertising section in the November issue of Boston magazine.

Law & Politics sends a ballot to the approximately 32,000 active lawyers in Massachusetts who have been in practice for at least five years. Voters are asked to nominate the best attorneys they've personally observed in action to discourage votes based largely on reputation. Voters can nominate lawyers in their own firm, but only if they nominate an equal or greater number of attorneys from other firms. Votes from outside a nominee's firm are weighted more heavily than votes from a lawyer's own firm.

Judge Phyllis J. Broker has been appointed the first justice of the Woburn District Court by Chief Justice of the District Court Lynda M. Connolly. Broker will serve as the acting first justice until she is administered the oath of office by Connolly at a swearing-in ceremony early next year.

Broker fills the position held by former First Justice Marie O. Jackson, who previously stepped down. Judge George Sprague served as the acting first justice in Woburn prior to Broker's appointment.

The term for a first justice is five years, subject to renewal, and all first justice appointments must be approved by Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan.

In announcing the appointment, Connolly said, "The first justice of a court is integral to setting a tone of hard work, integrity and compassion. Judge Broker possesses the leadership and the character to fulfill this charge. She has sat regularly in Woburn and is familiar with the needs of the court and the community. She has deservedly earned the respect of the individuals and entities associated with the court, and I am delighted to welcome her to the management team of the District Court."

Broker was appointed as an associate justice of the Woburn District Court by Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1999. She chairs the District Court Criminal Proceedings Committee.

Prior to her judicial appointment, Broker worked as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, and was later designated as the chief of the homicide unit and as a senior trial attorney of the sexual assault unit. Broker received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in 1973 and graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 1976.

Circuit Justice Peter C. DiGangi was honored recently, along with almost 200 other individuals from across the country, at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Angels in Adoption Gala.

U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Salem, nominated DiGangi, a resident of Danvers, for the Angels in Adoption award for his outstanding contribution to the welfare of children in the United States foster care system and to orphans around the globe.

"Judge DiGangi is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children. He has been a tireless advocate of adoption, especially for foster children in need of families," said Tierney. "Judge DiGangi has been an integral component of many successful adoptions from domestic to foreign, infants to adolescents."

Prior to his appointment as circuit justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court in 2001, DiGangi practiced family law in Salem. He also previously served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, New York. DiGangi is a graduate of the New England School of Law, a member of the Massachusetts, Boston, Essex County and Salem bar associations and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Massachusetts Family and Probate Inn of Court.

"I am very pleased to see the work of Judge DiGangi recognized on the national level," added Tierney. "I have known Judge DiGangi for many years and in every facet of his life Ñ as a judge, family man, lawyer and within the community in general Ñ he has shown exceptional integrity and ability and he is widely respected for those attributes and for his compassion toward others."

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of foster children in this country and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic need for a family.

In 1999, the Angels in Adoption program was established and it now serves as the CCAI's signature public awareness program. Each year, members of Congress participate in the nomination of individuals from all 50 states to be recognized at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Judge H. Gregory Williams has been appointed the first justice of the Edgartown District Court.

District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly, who appointed Williams, swore him in on Nov. 4, 2005.

Williams fills the position held by former First Justice Brian Rowe, who stepped down as first justice on Dec. 1, 2004. Regional Administrative Judge Rosemary B. Minehan served as the acting first justice in Edgartown prior to Williams' appointment.

The term for a first justice is five years, subject to renewal, and all first justice appointments must be approved by Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan.

In announcing the appointment, Connolly said, "Judge Williams has the necessary balance of confidence, humility, judicial savvy and compassion to make him an effective and respected first justice. He is a person of incomparable integrity and has a strong commitment to the Edgartown District Court and the Martha's Vineyard community. I am delighted to make this appointment, and I have great confidence in his ability to serve the community and represent the court."

Williams was appointed as associate justice of the Springfield District Court by Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1999. Since 2001, he has served as a circuit judge in the coastal region of the District Court. He is the presiding justice of the southern district of the appellate division of the District Court, and is the managing civil justice for that region. Williams also serves as a member of the District Court Civil Proceedings Committee.

Prior to his judicial appointment, Williams was an assistant attorney general in the Western Massachusetts division and served as the division's deputy chief. Prior to working in the attorney general's office, Williams was in private litigation practice at the law firm of Brooks, Mulcahy, Sanborn & Williams starting in 1978.

Williams received his undergraduate degree from Western Maryland College in 1972 and received his master's degree in English from Queen Mary College at the University of London. He graduated from Washington and Lee University Law School where he served as Law Review editor in 1977. He resides in Marston Mills with his wife and three children.

Judge Armand Fernandes Jr. of the Bristol County Probate and Family Court was awarded the St. Thomas More Award for distinguished service recently.

Fernandes, of New Bedford, was honored at the annual Red Mass celebrated on Sunday, Nov. 6, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Fall River. Bishop George W. Coleman celebrated the Mass, which is hosted each year by the Fall River diocese to invoke God's blessing on those who work in the legal system and to honor members of that community, specifically a jurist, an attorney and a court personnel member, for dedicated service.

Fernandes was appointed to the trial court bench on May 19, 1998 and is a graduate of Lehigh University and Suffolk University Law School.

In addition to private practice as a member of the Law Office of Fernandes and Finnerty in New Bedford, he has served as assistant district attorney for the Southern Massachusetts District; assistant city solicitor and solicitor for the City of New Bedford; and as legal advisor to the New Bedford Police Department.

Fernandes, a member of St. Julie Billiart Parish in North Dartmouth, is married to Patricia A. Fernandes. They have four children and five grandchildren.

The tradition of the Red Mass within the Church goes back to 13th century Europe. Its name derives from the color of the vestments worn during the liturgy, which is the Mass of the Holy Spirit, who will be invoked upon those in attendance. The Red Mass is widely celebrated in dioceses throughout the United States.