FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/27/2013

Contact: Contact: Eric Fullerton

(617) 778-1906

BBA Letter to Governor's Council on the Judicial Appointment Process

Dear Governor's Council:

The Boston Bar Association (the "BBA") respectfully requests your careful consideration of a judicial candidate's extensive and distinguished record as a lawyer, as well as his other professional accomplishments, before voting on any judicial appointment. The BBA, a voluntary, non-partisan organization of more than 10,000 members, does not endorse judicial candidates. This letter does not constitute an endorsement of any judicial nominee. We write instead to address three issues that are pertinent to judicial nominations in general. 

First, we have great confidence in the process that precedes your examination of judicial candidates. Notably, the ability of our system to produce judges of the highest caliber depends on the continued willingness of talented lawyers, with experience in serving their communities to step forward and submit themselves to a searching assessment of their fitness for judicial service. As members of the Governor's Council, each of you is called upon to give thoughtful consideration to the qualifications of every judicial nominee who comes before you at the ultimate stage in this process. 

Second, it is a tenet of the legal profession that lawyers have a broad responsibility to serve their community, in many different capacities. Any automatic imputation by association to a judicial nominee of institutional positions taken by a charitable organization which that nominee has served - and most especially such positions with which that nominee has expressly disagreed - would be unfair and inappropriate, and could damage the judicial confirmation process itself.  Qualified candidates for the bench who participate in organizations that take positions on public issues that might be controversial to some will be inhibited from applying to become judges. Others who might want to become judges would be deterred from joining possibly controversial organizations that would benefit from their time and talents.

Third, society and the cause of justice benefit greatly from the willingness of lawyers to represent persons of limited means on a pro bono basis.  Legal representation for all criminal defendants is one of the pillars of our justice system and of our democracy. Representing an unpopular defendant, especially on a pro bono basis, has always been an honorable thing for a lawyer to do, and should not disqualify anyone from the bench. 

In conclusion, the most fundamental ideal of law and democracy is that everyone has a voice. We urge you to use yours with the wisdom, circumspection, and considerations of fairness befitting your position. The Boston Bar Association requests that all of these factors be taken into account in evaluating all judicial candidates. 

Very truly yours,

Paul T. Dacier
President

The Boston Bar Association is a non-profit, voluntary membership organization of 11,000 attorneys drawn from private practice, corporations, government agencies, legal aid organizations, the courts, and law schools. It traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, the lawyer who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the second president of the United States.