For Immediate Release - September 29, 2016

The Honorable Roderick L. Ireland Portrait Unveiled at Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

BOSTON, MA -- The portrait of the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland, who served as the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 2010-2014 and Associate Justice from 1997-2010, was presented to the Supreme Judicial Court today at the John Adams Courthouse.  

Hon. Roderick L. Ireland Portrait Unveiled at Supreme Judicial Court

Following the unveiling of the portrait, the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland delivered remarks in the Seven Justice Courtroom.  "I knew that my success or failure was bigger than Rick Ireland - in the sense that it was not just personal to me - it was bigger because, in my mind, I represented an entire race every day," he said. "History will decide how I actually did. But I did my best and I hope that over the course of my 37-year career I helped, at least in a small way, to see that justice was done here in the Commonwealth.

I hope that I helped to improve the quality of the Massachusetts Court System; that I helped improve relations with the other two branches of government; and that I represented the court system in a dignified and thoughtful way," he continued. "Through it all, I always had a simple goal - to do justice."

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants presided over the unveiling, and Associate Justice Geraldine S. Hines accepted the portrait on behalf of the Supreme Judicial Court. Wayne A. Budd, Esq., delivered remarks, speaking for the Boston Bar Association and the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

The portrait was painted by Robert Freeman, a preeminent African-American artist whose works are broadly collected and have been exhibited nationally in leading galleries and museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, and the Boston Public Library. The musical interlude was performed by smooth jazz saxophonist André Ward, a popular guest artist at Scullers Jazz Club who is originally from the west side of Chicago and attended the Berklee College of Music.

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland received his Bachelor of Arts from Lincoln University, Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, Master of Laws from Harvard Law School, and Doctor of Philosophy in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University. He began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, then worked as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee, as chief attorney, deputy director, and executive director.  He was Assistant Secretary and Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds.

In 1977, the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland was appointed as a judge of the Juvenile Court; Governor Michael Dukakis appointed him to the Appeals Court in 1990. In 1997, Governor William F. Weld appointed him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. He became the senior Associate Justice in 2008. In 2010, Governor Deval Patrick appointed him as the thirty-sixth Chief Justice. Justice Ireland has been an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University since 1978 and on the faculty of the Appellate Judges Seminar at New York University Law School since 2001. He was the first African-American justice appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in its then 305-year history and its first African-American Chief Justice. Chief Justice Ireland retired from the Supreme Judicial Court in 2014.