Governor Deval L. Patrick
Announcement of the Nomination of Ralph D. Gants As Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court
State House, Boston
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today it is my great honor to nominate Ralph D. Gants to serve as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Justice Gants brings over 33 years of professional excellence to the Chief Justice position, including 16 years as a judge and 17 years in practice before that. He has served with distinction as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court for the past five years. Throughout his career, Justice Gants has earned the respect of those around him. On the bench, he is known by judges and members of the bar as an intellectually rigorous, pragmatic, fair and hard-working jurist. To members of the court staff who interact with him on a daily basis, he is known as gracious and humble. Each of these qualities, and both perspectives, equip him well to serve as Chief Justice.

Before his appointment to the SJC, Justice Gants served for 11 years as a Superior Court judge. As a trial court judge, he demonstrated an eagerness for the complicated case, and a reputation for handling the matters before him equitably and expeditiously. He displays a devotion to justice and constitutional rights, and compassion for the people behind the problems. To the benefit of the Commonwealth, he has brought all of these gifts with him to the SJC. 

Before his appointment to the Superior Court, Justice Gants had a successful career as a practicing lawyer. He was a partner at a major law firm, and served eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney — including three years as Chief of the Public Corruption Division. Before joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Justice Gants spent two years as Special Assistant to the Director of the FBI and a year as a law clerk to a federal district court judge. He is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

The intellectual rigor and thoughtful jurisprudence for which Justice Gants is known have made him an exemplary Associate Justice. I believe his effective contributions to the administrative work of the SJC have also helped prepare him to be Chief Justice. He has served as co-chair of the Access to Justice Commission and as Chair of the SJC Standing Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide. Recognizing that the future of the courts depends on making them accessible and understandable to all litigants in all types of legal matters, Justice Gants’ leadership of the Access to Justice Commission has and will significantly strengthen our courts.

Justice Gants understands that the law needs to be fair and make sense in the lives of real people. I am confident that under his leadership, the Supreme Judicial Court will continue to be a model of jurisprudence for the nation and the world, and that our judicial system will thrive and be ready to meet the many challenges ahead. 

Before I turn the podium over to our nominee, I’d like to say just a word about the jurist he will succeed.

The citizens of the Commonwealth owe Chief Justice Roderick Ireland a deep debt of gratitude for his distinguished service to the judiciary for his 37 years. In just four years, his stewardship of the courts as Chief Justice has been remarkable. The courts have been transformed under his guidance and he leaves us with a judicial system that improved performance and morale. He has been the right leader in a crucial time. I thank him for his service and wish for him the best in whatever comes next. 

With that, with a warm welcome to his family, and with great anticipation for the work to come with the Governor’s Council, it is my pleasure to introduce our nominee for Chief Justice of the SJC, Ralph Gants.

To view the related press release, click here.