Ireland Retires, Gants To Be Sworn-In As Massachusetts’ Top Judge

Massachusetts gets a new top judge Monday. Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants is scheduled to be sworn-in as chief justice at 1 p.m.

Gants has served on the Supreme Judicial Court since 2009. In accepting the governor’s nomination for chief justice in April, Gants said the court should be a problem solver.

“We need to make sure that we provide sentences which not only provide appropriate punishment, but also permit the greatest possibility that that individual will not be coming back into the criminal justice system after he is released from custody,” Gants said.

Gants succeeds Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, who is approaching 70 years old, the mandatory retirement age for Massachusetts judges.

When Ireland presided over his final oral arguments in May, there were no big speeches, but Assistant District Attorney Julia Holler marked the occasion.

“If I just may add, chief justice, it’s been an honor and a pleasure,” Holler said. “Enjoy your retirement.”

“Oh, aren’t you nice,” replied Ireland. “Thank you very much.”

Ireland was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court. And this Thursday, the court welcomes Geraldine Hines, its first African American woman.