Holtz, Cramer honored for excellence

Issue June 2015

A diverse group of lawyers were honored for their achievements at the May 14 Excellence in the Law event, which was presented by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with the Massachusetts Bar Association.

The MBA paid special tribute to the Hon. Nancy Holtz (ret.) and Boston Globe crime and legal reporter Maria Cramer. Holtz received the Daniel F. Toomey Excellence in the Judiciary Award and Cramer was presented with the MBA's Excellence in Legal Journalism Award.

The annual Excellence in the Law event, which was held at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, also featured award presentations to individuals in the following categories: Up & Coming Lawyers, and Excellence in Pro Bono, Paralegal, Marketing and Firm Administration. A portion of the proceeds from the event was donated to the Massachusetts Bar Institute Public Service Fund, which helps support community services throughout the state.

Holtz, a former Superior Court judge with more than 30 years of legal experience, is now a "go-to" mediator and arbitrator for high-stakes and complex matters for JAMS. The current chair of the MBA's Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, Holtz began her career as a trial attorney, as assistant corporation counsel for the city of Boston's Law Department, and then became partner at Merrick and Louison, where she tried complex civil and criminal jury trials in U.S. District Court and Massachusetts Superior Court. Holtz went on to serve as commissioner of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, before becoming secretary and general counsel of the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Holtz was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1996 where, for 15 years, she presided over civil and criminal cases, including significant multimillion-dollar business litigation, construction litigation, first degree murder, kidnapping and home invasion.

"Judge Toomey, for whom this award was named, was known to be one of the most eloquent legal writers on the bench [and] that makes this award particularly befitting of Judge Holtz" said MBA President Marsha V. Kazarosian. "In addition to her outstanding qualities as a lawyer, and a jurist, and a neutral, there are more droll, witty, Nancy Holtz-isms flying around out there than you will ever know; but once heard, will repeat with abandon! Judge Holtz, like Judge Toomey, has established an impeccable reputation in the legal community for her intellect, fairness and ability to handle the most complex high-stakes cases."

Cramer began her career in New Jersey covering municipal government at the Trenton Times. In December 2003, she was hired to work for Globe South the suburban zones section of the Boston Globe, and was quickly promoted to metro staff as a general assignment reporter in 2005. Cramer was assigned to cover Boston Police, a beat that sparked her love for trial coverage and broke news on some of the biggest stories in the city. She has led the news pack on cases like Philip Markoff, otherwise known as the Craigslist Killer, Clark Rockefeller, and the Woolson Street murders, the killings of three adults and a two-year-old boy on a Mattapan street. In 2013, she was part of the team that won the Pulitzer for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and in 2014, she was assigned to cover the state's court system full-time and has broken stories on the Aaron Hernandez case and the Parole Board.

"Covering crime in courts has been my passion since my early days as a reporter," said Cramer, who praised the legal community for recognizing the role of reporters in the court room.

A total of 36 awards were presented including 26 to Up & Coming lawyers, those attorneys who have been members of the bar for 10 years or less, but have already distinguished themselves as rising stars in the state's legal community.