Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 273: Judicial Nominating Council

Date: 02/13/1987
Issuer: Michael S. Dukakis
Mass Register: No. 551
Revoking: Executive Order 228
Revoked by: Executive Order 299
Revoked by: Executive Order 304
Superseded by: Executive Order 319
Superseded by: Executive Order 355
Superseded by: Executive Order 420

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 tenures:

WHEREAS, the high quality of judicial officer appointments can best be assured by the use of a non-partisan Judicial Nominating Council composed of outstanding private citizens and lawyers in aid of the discretion reposed in the Governor:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Michael S. Dukakis, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby revoke Executive Order 228 and order as follows:

Section 1. A Judicial Nominating Council is hereby established to advise the Governor with respect to all appointments of judges, clerk-magistrates and clerks of court.

Section 2. The Council shall consist of eighteen members, and shall act by the concurrence of at least ten members. Twelve 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. No member of the Council shall be a state employee. The members of the Council shall be appointed by the Governor to reflect the broad range of diversity of citizens of the Commonwealth after such consultation with organized bar associations, civic organizations, and other individuals and groups as the Governor may deem appropriate.

Section 3. Members of the Council shall be appointed to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Any succeeding appointments and vacancies on the Council shall be filled by the Governor in such manner and at such time as he deems appropriate. Members shall be prohibited from soliciting or receiving campaign contributions on behalf of any candidate for federal, state or local office to the same extent as the law prohibits public employees from soliciting or receiving such contributions. Members shall receive no compensation but shall be reimbursed for customary and usual expenses directly incurred in the performance of their duties.

Section 4. The Governor shall from time to time select one of the members to serve as chairperson. The Council shall adopt and make public procedures for the conduct of its affairs. All records and deliberations with respect to persons under consideration as nominees or prospective nominees shall be held in confidence by the Council, but shall be available to the Governor and the Governor's representatives, and to the Executive Council as it pertains to persons actually nominated to judicial office by the Governor.

Section 5. All vacancies in the office of judge, clerk- magistrate 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 Council. The Council shall, pursuant to the provisions of this Executive Order, submit to the Governor within thirty days a list for such vacancy of three or more persons qualified and willing to accept the office. In no event shall the Council submit fewer than three such persons for any vacancy. The Governor may refuse to nominate a person from such list and may require that the Council submit within thirty days a supplementary list of three or more other qualified persons willing to accept the office, but the Governor shall not call upon the Council for more than one supplementary list except as follows: if the Executive Council declines to give its consent to the Governor's nomination, then the Governor may require that the Council submit within thirty days a supplementary list of three or more persons qualified and willing to accept the office. The Governor shall nominate only a person from either the original list or a supplementary list, and shall publicly announce the name of the person he intends to nominate prior to the date of such nomination.

Section 6. In considering persons to submit as nominees to the Governor, the Council 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 Council shall be considered as a nominee so long as he or she is a member.

Section 7. This executive order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 13th day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred and eleven.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts


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