Governor Deval L. Patrick has nominated Supreme Judicial Court
Justice Ralph D. Gants as the next chief justice of the SJC. If
confirmed by the Governor's Council, Gants will replace current SJC
Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland, who is set to retire in
Gants, a Lexington resident and Harvard Law School graduate, has
more than 33 years of legal experience, including 16 years as a
judge. Appointed by Patrick in 2009, Gants has served as an
associate justice of the SJC for the past five years. Prior to the
SJC, he also served as a Superior Court judge for 12 years after
being appointed by former Gov. William Weld in 1997.
He served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office
in Boston for eight years, where he was chief of the Public
Corruption Division. In the early 1980s, Gants worked as special
assistant to former FBI director William Webster. Gants spent 17
years as a practicing lawyer and was a partner at Palmer &
"Justice Gants has worked his way up from the trenches of law
practice and has the strong intellectual firepower to boldly lead
the court," said Massachusetts Bar Association Chief Legal Counsel
and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy. "The people of
Massachusetts, as well as the administration of justice, will be
equally well served by his appointment."
As a member of the SJC, Gants has authored more than 120
majority decisions, including many significant rulings in civil
liberties and consumer protection cases. He is co-chair of the
SJC's Access to Justice Commission and chair of its Standing
Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide. During his tenure
on the state's highest bench, Gants has been very involved in
adding SJC rules that have helped directly fund legal services and
increase access to justice across the state. He is also committed
to reducing the rate of recidivism among prisoners.
Referred to as a "judge's judge" within the legal community,
Gants is known for his friendly personality and constant
accessibility to the bar.
"He's approachable, and that's important," Massachusetts Bar
Association President Douglas K. Sheff told the Boston
Herald after news of Gants' appointment broke. "A lot of the
time, judges think they're beyond reproach, but he's a guy who will
pull you aside and have a genuine conversation. That's how I know
him, and that's how others see him as well."
At the April 17 press conference where Patrick announced Gants
as his pick to succeed Ireland, Gants said: "I am honored and
humbled by the governor's nomination of me to serve as Chief
Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. I hope to be worthy of the
critically important mission that we seek to accomplish everyday -
the provision of fair, equal and efficient justice to every person
in this commonwealth."
Gants was the first of several distinguished guests to speak at
one of the MBA's House of Delegates (HOD) meetings this year.
Addressing the HOD in September, Gants emphasized the importance of
re-establishing connections to the judiciary through more bench-bar
meetings and urged members to provide comments on proposed
"It's terribly important when you folks have an opportunity to
comment that you take advantage of it," said Gants.
He also noted it was an "exciting time in the court system" with
the new leadership of Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and
Court Administrator Harry Spence.
Patrick has appointed four of the seven current SJC justices
during his two terms in office and has the opportunity to appoint a
fifth if Gants is confirmed as chief justice.