Table of Contents
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Part the first, Article XXIX, guarantees an impartial interpretation of the laws and administration of justice by free, impartial and independent judicial officers.
WHEREAS, under the Constitution and laws the Governor is charged with the responsibility of nominating and appointing, with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, all judicial officers;
WHEREAS, the quality of our system of administering justice is determined largely by the quality of the judicial officers appointed to lengthy tenure;
WHEREAS, the high quality of judicial officer appointments can best be assured by the use of a non-partisan judicial nominating commission composed of outstanding laymen and lawyers in aid of the discretion reposed in the Governor;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Michael S. Dukakis, Governor of the Commonwealth, by virtue of the authority vested in me as supreme executive magistrate, do hereby order that:
Sec. 1. A Judicial Nominating Commission is hereby established to advise the Governor with respect to all appointments of judges and clerks of court, and the designation of chief justices of all courts.
Sec. 2. The Commission shall consist of eleven members, and shall act by the concurrence of at least six members. Five of the members shall be members of the bar in the Commonwealth, and the remaining six members shall not be members of the bar of any state. The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Governor to reflect the broad range of diversity of citizens of the Commonwealth after consultation with such organized bar associations, civic organizations, and other individuals and groups as the Governor may deem appropriate; provided, however, that one attorney member shall be a person recommended by the Massachusetts Bar Association and one attorney member shall be a dean of a Massachusetts law school or his or her designee.
Sec. 3. Members of the Commission shall be appointed to serve for three year terms, but no member may be appointed to more than two successive terms; provided, however, that in the case of the initial members, four shall be appointed for three years, four shall be appointed for two years, and three shall be appointed for one year. A member may be removed by the Governor upon recommendation of the Commission by vote of at least seven of its members that cause exists. Succeeding appointments shall be made, and any vacancy on the Commission shall be filled for the duration of the term, in the same manner as the prior appointment. No member of the Commission shall hold any appointed or elected public office during the member's term. No more than six members shall be registered members of the same political party at the time of their appointment. Members of the Commission shall receive no compensation but shall be reimbursed for customary and usual expenses directly incurred in the performance of their duties.
Sec. 4. The Commission from time to time shall select one of its members to serve as chairperson and adopt and make public procedures and standards for the conduct of its affairs. With respect to all vacancies to be filled hereunder in the Boston Municipal Court, any district court, probate court, juvenile court, housing court, or other local court hereafter established, the Commission shall hold at least one public hearing within the Jurisdiction of such court to consider what particular qualifications, if any, may be needed for the position. With respect to all other vacancies, the Commission in its discretion shall determine whether or not a public hearing or hearings shall be held. All records and deliberations with respect to persons under consideration as nominees or prospective nominees shall be held in confidence by the Commission, but shall be available to the Governor and the Governor's representatives.
Sec. 5. All vacancies in the office of judge or clerk of court shall be filled in the following manner. When a vacancy occurs or is expected to occur which the Governor intends to fill, the Governor shall so notify, the Commission. The Commission shall, pursuant to the provisions of this Executive Order, submit to the Governor within 60 days a list for such vacancy of not less than three qualified persons willing to accept the office. The Governor may refuse to nominate a person from such list and may require that the Commission submit, within 30 days, a supplementary list of not less than three other qualified persons willing to accept the office, but the Governor shall not call upon the Commission for more than one supplementary list except as provided in the following sentence. If the Executive Council declines to give its consent to the Governor's nomination, then the Governor may require that the Commission submit within 30 days a supplementary list of not less than three other qualified persons willing to accept the office. The Governor shall nominate only a person from either the original list or a supplementary list to fill such vacancy, and shall publicly announce the name of the person he intends to nominate at least 14 days prior to the date of such nomination.
Sec. 6. In considering persons to submit as nominees to the Governor, the Commission shall seek men and women of the highest quality who, by temperament, ability and integrity, will freely, impartially and independently interpret the laws and administer justice. Persons shall be considered for submission as nominees according to law and without regard to race, religion, sex, national origin or political affiliation. No member of the Commission shall be considered as a nominee so long as he or she is a member and for a period of two years thereafter.
Sec. 7. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or terminated by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this third day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine Hundred and seventy five and of the independence of the United States of America, one hundred ninety-nine.
MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
John F.X. Davoren
Secretary of the Commonwealth