On First Day Of Chief Justice Confirmation Hearing, Mass. Governor’s Council Kept Nominee Mum

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council met Wednesday ostensibly to vet Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants, the govenor’s pick for chief justice.

But there wasn’t much vetting going on. The council met for five hours and didn’t ask Gants a single question or even allow him to speak.

For the first several hours, judges, defense attorneys and lawmakers praised the nominee. And members of the Governor’s Council – who usually don’t have an audience – took advantage of these officials’ presence to ask questions completely unrelated to the nomination.

“I go into superior courthouses all over the commonwealth and some of them are in tough tough condition,” Counselor Robert Jubinville told retiring Chief justice Roderick Ireland. “Need a lot of work. They’re beautiful buildings. Just gorgeous palaces of justice.”

And Counselor Eileen Duff veered off on a tangent with the executive director of Greater Boston Legal Services.

“This is fascinating to me,” Duff said. “How do you get your funding?”

Some of the time was filled with bickering. Counselors fought over whether to cut off one witness who printed more than a thousand pages of old court decisions. Gants sat silently watching the spectacle.

The hearing will continue next Wednesday.