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Patrick Picks Ireland For SJC Chief

Gov. Deval Patrick, left, and Massachusetts Supreme Court Associate Justice Roderick Ireland at a news conference announcing Ireland's nomination as Chief Justice of the court. (AP)
Gov. Deval Patrick, left, and Massachusetts Supreme Court Associate Justice Roderick Ireland at a news conference announcing Ireland's nomination as Chief Justice of the court. (AP)

Gov. Deval Patrick has nominated Roderick Ireland to be chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Ireland, currently the senior associate justice on the high court, would replace the retiring Chief Justice Margaret Marshall if he's confirmed by the Governor's Council, a process that could take as little as a month.

"The most important thing was to get a nominee who was going to be absolutely committed to the fair administration of justice, who could understand the issues that come before the court are issues that involve human beings, trying to sort out their problems and resolve their disputes, and that there are faces behind those concepts," Patrick said during a Statehouse news conference.

Ireland said he grew up with little, but his family and community pushed him to excel.

"My nomination says that anything is possible, no matter where you come from and what your background is," Ireland said.

Ireland was appointed to the SJC in 1997 by then-Republican Gov. William F. Weld, making him the first black justice in the 318-year history of the oldest appellate court in continuous operation in the Western Hemisphere. He previously served on the Massachusetts Appeals Court for seven years and the Boston Juvenile Court for almost 13 years.

Ireland received his bachelors from Lincoln University, his juris doctorate from Columbia University Law School, a masters from Harvard Law School and a doctorate from Northeastern University.

Marshall announced her retirement in July, saying she wanted to spend more time with her ailing husband. Patrick asked her to stay until after Tuesday's election to avoid politicizing his selection.

In nominating Ireland, Patrick gets a second appointment to the court. If Ireland is confirmed, Patrick will nominate a replacement associate justice.

All nominees must be approved by the Governor's Council.

This program aired on November 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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