Massachusetts law about judges

Laws, rules, and web sources on judicial selection and judicial ethics.

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Table of Contents

Judicial selection

Massachusetts Constitution, Part the Second, Chapter II, Section I, Article IX
Establishes the Attorney General’s power to nominate and appoint “all judicial officers…”

Judicial Nominating Commission
The JNC serves as the Administration's screening mechanism for judicial candidates. It is made up of 26 voluntary members appointed by the Governor.

Opinion of the Justices to the Governor, 461 Mass. 1205 (2012)
"[T]he Governor must be physically present and presiding over an assembly of the Executive Council in order for the Lieutenant Governor to vote on matters before the Council."

Executive Order No. 610 Reconstituting the Judicial Nominating Commission and establishing a Code of Conduct for commission members and nominees to judicial office

Judicial conduct


Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:09: Code of Judicial Conduct
"Establishes standards for the ethical conduct of judges."

Commission on Judicial Conduct
"Responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct against state court judges and for recommending, when necessary, discipline of judges to the Supreme Judicial Court." Includes information on filing a complaint about a judge online.

Committee on Judicial Ethics, including:

Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:22 Motions to recuse
Asking the judge to excuse or disqualify him or herself from a case because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality. See Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:09 and Canon 3(E)(1) for disqualifying circumstances.

Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:11 Committee on Judicial Ethics


Babaletos v. Demoulas Super Markets, Inc., 493 Mass. 460 (2024)
Includes an appendix that provides guidance on the imposition of time limits for trial judges in the context of complex civil trials.


Code of conduct for United States judges

Code of conduct for the United States Supreme Court

Judicial directories

Judicial profiles

Court Listener judicial database
The Court Listener Judicial database was formed as partnership with researcher Elliott Ash at Princeton University and with support from the National Science Foundation and Knight Foundation. The database has information about thousands of judges from federal and state courts, including their biographical and educational background, judicial and non-judicial positions held, political affiliations, American Bar Association ratings, campaign finance data, and opinions authored.

Web sources

Center for Judicial Ethics, National Center for State Courts.
A clearinghouse for information about judicial ethics and discipline and publisher of Judicial Conduct Reporter. A quarterly publication that  summarizes recent decisions and advisory opinions, reports developments in judicial discipline, and includes articles on judicial ethics and discipline procedure topics.

A guide to the Massachusetts judicial selection process: the making of a judge, Massachusetts Bar Association  (3rd ed., 2015).
Details the judicial selection process and describes the measures that have been put in place to reduce political influence in the selection of judges, including with regard to the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).

How a judge is selected in Massachusetts, Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.
An excellent description of the process of appointing and removing judges in Massachusetts.

An introduction to artificial intelligence for federal judges, Federal Judicial Center.

Print sources

Excellent judges, Hennessey, Edward F., Flaschner Judicial Institute, 1997.
Written by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts, Edward F. Hennessey.

How to become a judge or clerk magistrate, MCLE, 2017.

Judges in street clothes: acting ethically off-the-bench, McKoski, Raymound J., Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017. 
Overview of regulations on the extrajudicial activities of judges.   

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Last updated: March 22, 2024

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