For Immediate Release - December 06, 2013


BOSTON – Thursday, December 5, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced the appointment of the Honorable Barbara Dortch-Okara to a five-year term as Chair of the State Ethics Commission. Dortch-Okara replaces outgoing Chair Charles B. Swartwood.

"I am honored to appoint Judge Dortch-Okara as Chair of the State Ethics Commission," said Governor Patrick. "She has an extraordinary background as an attorney, a trial court judge and a chief justice. I am confident that she will be a superb Chair and I thank her for her lifelong commitment to public service to serve the Commonwealth and her willingness to accept this important position.”

Dortch-Okara has 39 years of experience as an attorney and a judge. She practiced law for 10 years, including positions as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston, Associate General Counsel at the Massachusetts Port Authority and attorney advisor for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She began her judicial service in 1984 as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, where she was instrumental in launching an alternative sentencing program for women. In 1989, Dortch-Okara was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court, a position she held for 23 years before retiring in 2012. From 1998 to 2003, she served as Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court. She is now a professor of law at New England School of Law in Boston, teaching courses on criminal law, evidence and legal ethics. Dortch-Okara received the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association's 2011 Trailblazer Award and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys' 2007 Judicial Excellence Award. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Boston College Law School. Dortch-Okara is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Chair of the State Ethics Commission. The Commission was created by statute in 1978.

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