For Immediate Release - February 03, 2016

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy to Retire

BOSTON, MA -- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy today advised Governor Charlie Baker that he will retire from the Court at the end of its current term in August of 2016. Appointed by Governor Paul Cellucci, Justice Cordy was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on February 1, 2001.

Justice Robert J. Cordy
Justice Robert J. Cordy

"I was deeply honored when Governor Cellucci appointed me to the Supreme Judicial Court, and it has been an extraordinary privilege to participate in its mission of ensuring fair, impartial and timely justice for all who come before it. I have served with wonderful, collaborative colleagues and an outstanding staff, all committed to excellence in furtherance of that mission," Justice Cordy said.

"Justice Cordy has been a great friend and colleague since we were federal prosecutors together in 1983," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants said. "He leaves an enduring legacy as a justice of this Court, not only because of the over 360 carefully crafted and reasoned majority opinions he has authored so far, but also because of the countless unseen contributions he has made to maintain the excellence of this Court. His energy and productivity is truly the stuff of legend. While doing all the work of a justice (and more), he found the time to be a law school professor, an international legal scholar, and a consultant to the judiciaries of many nations that seek to embrace the rule of law. I will miss him dearly."

"It was a true pleasure to work closely with Justice Robert Cordy," said Roderick L. Ireland, who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court from 2010 to 2014. "Justice Cordy is a dedicated jurist and a thoughtful person. He is very hardworking and focused, and has made many important contributions to the judiciary."

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court, Justice Cordy practiced law for 27 years in a variety of public and private capacities, including serving as an Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's Office. He worked as Chief Legal Counsel to Governor William Weld during his first term in office, and after that was the managing partner of the Boston office of the international law firm of McDermott, Will and Emery.
During his time as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, Justice Cordy served as chair of its Rules Committee and co-chair of the Judiciary-Media Committee. He worked closely with Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall on implementing the institutional and management reforms recommended by the Visiting Committee on Management in the Courts in its 2003 report.  He also helped oversee the restoration of the historic John Adams Courthouse, and the construction of new courthouses in Worcester, Salem, Plymouth and Fall River as the Court’s representative on the committee overseeing capital planning for the courts.
In addition to his judicial and administrative responsibilities, Justice Cordy worked extensively with judges, court officials and bar organizations from more than a dozen countries as they endeavored to create stronger and more respected rule of law institutions and improved practices in furtherance of justice within their own countries. In 2013, Justice Cordy was invited to join the Judicial Advisory Board of the American Society of International Law, chaired by United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Since 2004 he has also been a member of the adjunct faculty of New England Law|Boston, where he teaches Advanced Criminal Procedure. For the past five years he has served as a member of the Standards Review Committee of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

After the completion of his fifteen and a half years of service on the Court, Justice Cordy hopes to return to the practice of law in a capacity that will enable him to continue his work on rule of law issues with judiciaries around the world.


Statement of Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court from 1999 to 2010, on the announcement of the retirement of Justice Robert J. Cordy from the Supreme Judicial Court

It was an honor and a joy to serve with Justice Cordy on the Supreme Judicial Court. He shared my passion for the jurisprudence of the Court – circulating opinions that were timely, thoughtful and well crafted, even when he and I disagreed – and for “an impartial…administration of justice”, as mandated by the Massachusetts Constitution. He brought his considerable energy, and his energy is considerable, to implementing the recommendations of the so-called “Monan Committee”, named after J. Donald Monan, S.J., Chancellor of Boston College and the Chair of that Committee, recommendations for improving and modernizing the Massachusetts judicial branch that were sweeping in scope.  His legacy can be seen everywhere: on the construction of new courthouses, and the renovation of old, including the beautiful John Adams Courthouse; on improving outdated technology throughout the courts, on the development of new rules governing the courts and the media; on improvements in court rules…the list goes on and on.  His profound commitment to the rule of law was not only local, but also international. He was widely invited as a speaker and adviser on the strengthening of independent judiciaries from the farthest reaches of Siberia, to Turkey, to The Gambia and elsewhere.  He has served his office well, and I extend my best wishes to him for the future.