Executive Order

Executive Order No. 304: Judicial Nominating Council

Date: 03/14/1991
Issuer: William F. Weld
Mass Register: No. 657
Revoking: Executive Order 273
Superseding: Executive Order 299
Revoked by: Executive Order 319
Revoked by: Executive Order 355
Superseded by: Executive Order 420

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Part One, 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 serve within our judicial system;

WHEREAS, the pre-eminent consideration for the selection,of judicial officers ought to be the quality of their intellect, judgment and integrity;

WHEREAS, judicial candidates should be drawn from a cross-section of our community, representing not only geographically diverse parts of the Commonwealth, but reflecting as well a diversity of experience and background;

WHEREAS, the highest quality of judicial officer appointments can best be assured by the use of a non-partisan Judicial Nominating Council composed of outstanding citizens in aid to the discretion reposed in the Governor, drawn from all quarters of the Commonwealth and a cross-section of its diverse population;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, William F. Weld, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby revoke Executive Order 273 and order as follows:

Section 1. A Judicial Nominating Council ("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 an Executive Committee having twenty-three (23) members including a chair who shall hold the title of Chair of the Judicial Nominating Council, and four (4) Regional Committees as described below. All members of the Executive Committee and of the Regional Committees shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Governor shall appoint one or more vice chairs of the Council from the membership of the Executive Committee.

Section 3. Each of the four (4) Regional Committees shall have a chair and a vice chair, designated by the Governor. The chair of each Regional Committee shall also be one of the 23 members of the Executive Committee. The Chair of the Regional Committees shall report directly to the Chair of the Council with respect to their duties and the conduct of the affairs of their respective Regional Committees.

Section 4. The Regional Committees shall be constituted as follows:

(a) The Western Regional Committee shall encompass the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden and shall consist of eleven members. The Governor shall appoint one member from a list of five nominees presented to him by each of the four county bar associations represented within this region (four members in total).

(b) The Central Regional Committee shall encompass Worcester County, and shall consist of eleven members. The Governor shall appoint one member from a list of five nominees presented to him by the county bar association represented within this region.

(c) The Southeastern Regional Committee shall encompass the counties of Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Plymouth, and shall consist of eleven members. The Governor shall appoint one member from a list of five nominees presented to him by each of the five county bar associations represented within this region (five members in total).

(d) The Eastern Regional Committee shall encompass the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Middlesex and Essex, and shall consist of fifteen members. The Governor shall appoint one member from a list of five nominees presented to him by each of the bar associations of Essex, Middlesex and Norfolk counties, and of the Boston Bar Association (four members in total).

Section 5. The Regional Committees shall solicit, interview, evaluate, conduct reference and background checks on, and recommend well qualified candidates to the Executive Committee for judicial vacancies occurring in the District, Juvenile, Probate and Housing Courts, and for clerk-magistrates and clerks of court in their respective regions.

Section 6. Each Regional Committee shall develop a pool of well qualified candidates for such vacancies as are anticipated during a twelve to eighteen month period, and for each type of anticipated vacancy. No candidate's name shall be placed in the pool until the Committee has satisfied its criteria for ensuring that such candidate is of the highest moral and ethical integrity, and the candidate is well qualified to serve as a judge in the District, Juvenile, Probate and Housing Courts or as a clerk-magistrate or clerk of court. No candidate shall be placed in the pool unless a majority of the Committee concurs in the recommendation. Candidates need not reside within the region in order to be considered or included in the pool of candidates.

Section 7. Within fifteen (15) days of the occurrence of a vacancy, or at any time at the request of the Governor, the Regional Committee shall forward to the Executive Committee the names of and all pertinent information relating to each of the candidates in the applicable pool of candidates. The Executive Committee shall review all pertinent information with respect to the candidates forwarded to it by the Regional Committee, and may, but need not, conduct further background investigations or interviews of any of the candidates.

Section 8. The Executive Committee may not add or delete candidates from the pool of candidates forwarded by the Regional Committee without the concurrence of twelve members. The Executive Committee may add no more than two well qualified candidates to the pool to be forwarded to the Governor for consideration in filling judicial vacancies occurring in the District, Juvenile, Probate and Housing Courts or in the position of clerk-magistrate or clerk of court. If the Governor determines that the pool of candidates forwarded to him is inadequate, he shall so advise the Executive Committee and the pertinent Regional Committee, and shall request them to engage in a further search for well qualified candidates and to submit to him within thirty (30) days an expanded pool of such candidates.

Section 9. The Executive Committee shall solicit, interview and evaluate and thereby develop a pool of well qualified candidates for appointment to judicial vacancies in the Land Court, the Superior Court, the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court. The Executive Committee shall develop a pool of such candidates for each vacancy likely to occur in a twelve to eighteen month period in the aforesaid courts, and shall forward the names of the candidates in each such pool to the Governor, within fifteen (15) days of the occurrence of any such judicial vacancy, or at any time at the request of the Governor. If the Governor deems the pool of candidates forwarded to him to be inadequate, he may request the Executive Committee to engage in a further search for well qualified candidates and to forward to him within thirty (30) days an expanded pool of candidates.

Section 10. A candidate's name shall be placed in the pool of candidates for judicial vacancies in the Land Court, the Superior Court, the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court only by the concurrence of at least twelve (12) members of the Executive Committee. No candidate's name shall be placed in the pool until the Executive Committee has satisfied its criteria for insuring that the candidate is of the highest moral and ethical integrity, and that the candidate is well qualified to serve as a judge in the Land Court, the Superior Court, the Appeals Court or the Supreme Judicial Court. The Executive Committee shall, in this regard, be responsible for conducting reference and background checks of all candidates it recommends for inclusion in the pool.

Section 11. All members of the Executive Committee and of the Regional Committees 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.

Section 12. The Executive Committee shall meet monthly to conduct its business, and more frequently if called to do so by the chair. The Regional Committees shall meet when called to do so by the chair of each committee, and as further voted by the members. A vice chair shall moderate the meetings of the Executive and Regional Committees in the absence of the chair.

Section 13. The Executive Committee shall adopt, and make public, procedures for the conduct of its affairs. Each of the Regional Committees shall adopt procedures for the conduct of its affairs subject to the review and approval of the Chair of the Judicial Nominating Council. Once adopted and approved they shall be made public. All records and deliberations with respect to persons under consideration as nominees or prospective nominees shall be held in confidence by the Executive and Regional Committees but shall be available to the Governor and the Governor's designee.

Section 14. In considering persons to submit as nominees to the Governor, the Executive and Regional Committees 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, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or political affiliation. No member of the Executive or Regional Committees shall be considered as a nominee so long as he or she is a member.

Section 15. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 14th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-one.

William F. Weld, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Michael Joseph Connolly
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact for No. 304: Judicial Nominating Council

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