Ralph D. Gants became the 37th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in July 2014 when he was sworn in by Governor Deval Patrick. He was appointed as an Associate Justice on the Court in January 2009. Before joining the SJC, he served for more than eleven years as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, and was Administrative Justice of the Superior Court's Business Litigation Session in 2008.
Chief Justice Gants was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1954. He received his B.A. from Harvard College in 1976, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. The following year, he completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England. In 1980, he earned a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where he was note editor of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson, and then served as a Special Assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster. He later was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts and Chief of the Public Corruption Unit before joining the Boston law firm formerly known as Palmer & Dodge LLP, where he practiced law until he was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor William Weld. He has taught at Harvard Law School, New England Law | Boston, and Northeastern University School of Law.
Chief Justice Gants is chair of the SJC's Standing Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide and the SJC Indigency Committee, and was co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission from 2010 to 2015.
Among his awards and honors are the 2017 Massachusetts Bar Foundation Great Friend of Justice Award, the 2016 Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service, the Boston Bar Association Citation of Judicial Excellence, and the Suffolk Law School Public Service Award. He was also awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from New England Law | Boston in 2015, and the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth in 2016. Chief Justice Gants is married with two children.