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 304, and order as follows:
Section 1. A Judicial Nominating Council ("Council") is hereby established to advise the Governor with respect to 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, Norfolk and Plymouth, and shall consist of thirteen members. The Governor shall appoint one member from a list of five nominees presented to him by each of the six county bar associations represented within this region (six members in total).
(d) The Eastern Regional Committee shall encompass the counties of Suffolk, 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 and Middlesex counties, and of the Boston Bar Association (three members in total).
(e) With regard to members appointed by the Governor to Regional Committees upon recommendation of county bar associations, the Governor may periodically seek replacement recommendations to ensure active and current bar association involvement in the selection process.
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 and clerk magistrate vacancies occurring in the District, Probate and Housing Courts of their respective regions.
Section 6. Each Regional Committee shall develop a pool of well qualified candidates for such vacancies as are anticipated during an 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, 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 members of the Committee voting concurs in the recommendation but in any case a candidate must receive at least 5 votes from the Western or Central Committees, 6 votes from the Southeastern Committee and 7 votes from the Eastern Committee to be placed in the pool. 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 the information with respect to the candidates forwarded to it by the Regional Committee, and forward said candidates to the Governor with appropriate comments or additions as provided in section 8. The Executive Committee may, but need not, conduct further reference checks of any of the candidates. The principal purpose of this review shall be to ensure, over time, a consistent level and standard of quality and an appropriate range of diversity in the recommendations of the Regional Committees, and to identify areas where the Executive Committee can, through the Regional Chairs, assist in the recruitment of well qualified and diverse candidates. The recommendations of the Regional Committees as forwarded to the Governor by the Executive Committee, shall not be considered to be the recommendations of the Executive Committee or a certification by the Executive Committee of the qualifications of any individual so recommended, except as provided in section 8. Once voted into the pool by a Regional Committee and forwarded to the Governor by the Executive Committee, a candidate remains eligible for appointment to any comparable judicial vacancy which may occur in that region during an eighteen (18) month period. Regional Committees may continue to add to the pool of well qualified candidates, and forward such names to the Executive Committee, as additional judicial vacancies occur. The Governor may, in circumstances he deems exceptional, appoint a candidate recommended by one Regional Committee to a comparable position in another region where the candidate has substantial ties through residence or practice.
Section 8. The Executive Committee may not add candidates to the pool of candidates forwarded by the Regional Committee without the concurrence of twelve of its 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; Probate and Housing Courts or in the position of clerk-magistrate or clerk of court. Any such additional candidates must reside or practice in the relevant region and must come from the candidates which the Executive Committee has interviewed pursuant to section 9, below.
The Executive Committee may, upon a vote of thirteen of its members, send a recommended candidate back to the Regional Committee for reconsideration, or forward the name of such candidate on to the Governor with a specific reservation or comment. 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 an 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 a majority of Executive Committee members voting, but in any event, no candidate shall be placed in the pool without receiving 10 affirmative votes. 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. Once voted into the pool and forwarded to the Governor, a candidate remains eligible for appointment to any comparable judicial vacancy which may occur during an eighteen (18) month period.
Section 11. There shall be a Special Nominating Committee established for the selection of judges to the statewide Juvenile Court, created by Chapter 379 of the Acts of 1992. This Committee shall consist of at least fifteen members drawn from throughout the Commonwealth. The Committee shall have an initial life of two years, until May 30, 1995, but may be extended by the Governor. If the Committee is not extended its responsibilities with regard to the Juvenile Court shall revert to the Regional Nominating Committees within whose jurisdiction the respective divisions of the Juvenile Court are located.
The members of the Special Nominating Committee shall be selected by the Governor, and will serve at his pleasure and under the same rules as apply to members of the Regional and Executive Committees as set forth in this Executive Order. The Governor will designate a chair and two vice chairs from the Committee membership. The Committee's charge will be that given to the Regional and Executive Committees, with particular focus on the needs of the Juvenile Court and the often special experience, interests,and qualities necessary to the making of a well qualified judicial candidate for the Juvenile Court.
The Committee shall recommend a pool of well qualified candidates to the Governor, through the Executive Committee, no later than November 1, 1993, for the seven vacancies created by statute effective January 1, 1994; no later than May 1, 1994, for the seven vacancies effective July 1, 1994; and no later than May 1, 1995 for the seven vacancies effective July 1, 1995.
The Committee shall adopt procedures for the conduct of its affairs. The Committee shall be responsible for periodically keeping candidates informed of their status in the process. The Committee shall forward only those candidates who receive a majority of the votes cast at a voting meeting, but in any event, no candidate shall be forwarded for consideration by the Governor unless he or she shall have received seven votes from the Committee.
Section 12. 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 13. 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 14. 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. It is intended that the names of individuals forwarded to the Executive Committee and to the Governor be confidential to the extent possible, and intentional breaches of this important responsibility may be grounds for removal. It shall be the responsibility of the chair of each committee or the chair's designee, to notify all candidates of their status at the time the recommendations are forwarded from the Executive Committee to the Governor.
Section 15. 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 appointed or serving after May 15, 1993, shall be considered as a nominee until he or she has left the Committee and a period of six months has passed.
Section 16. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 24th day of May one thousand nine hundred and ninety-three.
William F. Weld, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Michael Joseph Connolly
Secretary of the Commonwealth