For Immediate Release - December 06, 2016

Supreme Judicial Court Hears Oral Arguments in Four Cases in Special Sitting in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, MA - Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and the six Associate Justices today heard oral arguments in four cases in a special sitting at the Lawrence District Court. The special sitting provided an opportunity for students, residents of the local community and the media to view the work of the highest court of the Commonwealth outside of the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, where cases are normally heard.  

As part of the special sitting, Essex County Superior Court Clerk Thomas H. Driscoll, Jr., and Lawrence District Court Clerk Keith E. McDonough, acted as clerks to the Justices for the day. Students from Lawrence High School, Greater Lawrence Technical High School and Central Catholic High School attended the special sitting. Following oral arguments, Chief Justice Gants and the Associate Justices answered questions from students.  

"It was a great pleasure for all the Justices to 'take our court on the road' and bring it to Lawrence," said SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants. "We thank all those who worked so hard to make our visit a success -- the judges, clerks, court officers, bar association leaders, teachers, and students, and the court maintenance staff who demonstrated extraordinary craftsmanship and ingenuity in building a removable bench that could seat the seven Justices and can be used for future outside sittings."

The seven Justices hear appeals on a broad range of criminal and civil cases from September through May. The Associate Justices sit as Single Justices each month on a rotation schedule. Single Justices consider certain petitions pertaining to cases on trial or on appeal, bail reviews, bar discipline proceedings, petitions for admission to the bar, and a variety of other statutory proceedings. The full bench renders approximately 200 written decisions each year; the Single Justices decide approximately 600 cases annually.

The Justices heard oral arguments in the below cases:

  • SJC-12125    Commonwealth vs. Douglas Garcia
  • SJC-12114    Commonwealth vs. Joel D. Morgan
  • SJC-12186    Commonwealth vs. Heather Dragotta
  • SJC-12195    Guardianship of K.N.  

Following oral arguments, SJC Chief Justice Gants delivered remarks as guest speaker at a luncheon put together and hosted by the Lawrence Bar Association, Haverhill Bar Association and the Essex County Bar Association, where he addressed court leaders, bar leaders and Essex County officials.

SJC Special Sitting in Lawrence December 2016