Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza
Phillip Rapoza is Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He received a B.A. magna cum laude from Yale College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. Before entering private practice, he served as an assistant district attorney in both Suffolk and Bristol Counties. In 1992, he was appointed Associate Justice of the Fall River District Court and was subsequently appointed Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. He was appointed to the Appeals Court in 1998, and in 2006, he was named Chief Justice. Chief Justice Rapoza is a member of the US Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal and is a Life Fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. In 2011, he received the President's Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association for his judicial service and contributions to the legal profession. Chief Justice Rapoza is also active in various international justice initiatives. He co-founded the Commission for Justice Across the Atlantic in 1997 and for six years chaired a series of bilateral programs with the Portuguese judiciary. In 2002, the President of Portugal awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator for "promoting closer relations between the judicial systems of our two countries." From 2003 to 2005, Chief Justice Rapoza took an unpaid leave of absence to work for the United Nations, serving as an international judge and coordinator of the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor. The Special Panels was a UN-backed war crimes tribunal established to prosecute crimes against humanity and other serious violations of human rights committed during East Timor's struggle for independence. Since then he has returned to East Timor on numerous occasions to assist with UN efforts to develop the country's justice sector. Chief Justice Rapoza also headed a UN Criminal Justice Advisory Team in Haiti and has travelled on several occasions to Cambodia to participate in seminars and trainings relating to the judicial process dealing with crimes that occurred during the Khmer Rouge period. In 2007, he received the Brazilian Medal of International Merit in recognition of his "contribution to strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between the judicial systems on the American continent." In 2009, he received the Alexander George Teitz Memorial Award from the Touro Synagogue Foundation in recognition of his "commitment to religious freedom and ethnic tolerance worldwide, as demonstrated by . . . his career as a leader in international criminal justice [and] his work for the United Nations." He currently serves as President of the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation, which promotes studies in the field of crime prevention and the treatment of offenders.