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Remembrances of Chief Justice Ralph Gants

Messages of condolence or memory of the Chief, shared by the community.

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Remembrances of Chief Justice Gants

We, at the Massachusetts Probation Service, add our voices to the many expressing both grief over the loss of Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants and praise for his lifetime of good work.   
Quite simply, Chief Justice Gants dedicated his life to the cause of equal justice for all.  That core belief, equal justice for all, came through clearly and consistently in his leadership of the Massachusetts Courts.  He demonstrated his commitment to that principle in his decisions as a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, in his public statements, appearances, and positions, and in commissioning the study about racial disparities in the justice system. It came through in his daily interactions with everyone he came in contact with whether colleagues on the bench, co-workers in the courts, or the public. As others have pointed out, he saw the justice system as a way to “repair the world.” And he fought courageously to make that justice system and the world an inclusive one. 
Chief Justice Gants understood and deeply appreciated the work of the Massachusetts Probation Service and its role in “repairing the world.” He believed in our mission to increase community safety, reduce recidivism, contribute to the fair and equitable administration of justice, support victims and survivors, and assist individuals and families in achieving long term positive change. He worked tirelessly to champion and support that work at every opportunity. He was invested in the continued development of the MPS as that effective tool of “repair.” 
He cared about the Probation staff, as he cared about all of those who do the work of the courts and the justice system at large. It was through the justice system and his tireless effort to support and improve the delivery of justice in the Commonwealth that he sought to make the world a better place.   
On this day of reflection, let us collectively remember Chief Justice Gants and his lifetime of contributions as both a model and inspiration for our work.  And let us carry on his legacy by continually embracing his commitment to equal justice for all. 
We will truly miss him.  

Commissioner Ed Dolan, Massachusetts Probation Service


Although I never had the privilege of serving with Chief Justice Gants, I have admired his work as a Justice, his leadership and initiatives as Chief Justice, and his simple, forthright and courtly manner. He has been the very model of a model Chief Justice. And finally, I greatly appreciate the courtesy and friendliness he has shown me as a former member of the Court he headed with such distinction.

Charles Fried, Associate Justice, Supreme Judicial Court, 1995-1999


I had the honor and privilege as President of the Worcester County Bar Association to spend time with Chief Justice Gants during a luncheon following a special sitting in Worcester in October 2018. I was struck by how engaging and humble he was, notwithstanding his intelligence, legal acumen, and status as the Chief Justice of the highest Court in the Commonwealth. He was so proud that the SJC was undertaking a "Road Show," bringing oral arguments to various cities and towns around the Commonwealth. It was clear that access to justice, education, and outreach remained at the forefront of his concerns and efforts as Chief Justice. His death is a tremendous loss that will be felt within the legal community and beyond.

Lynette Paczkowski, Attorney, Worcester, MA, and Past President of the Worcester County Bar Association


Chief Justice Gants was doing a tour of our court a few years back, and beforehand our First Justice told me that he thought that the Chief was in a Men's soccer league, as was I. When he passed by my office, I mentioned soccer to him and wouldn't you know it, I also was in the same league, different team and division. We then had the most wonderful, pleasant conversation about soccer. I mentioned the fact that I was in an over 62 league, and he shot back that I was just a 62 year old rookie, which was true. Our conversation went on for a while until the chief was reminded he had a tight schedule and they were waiting for him elsewhere. I was so honored that he took time out of his hectic schedule to speak, passionately, about one of his, I am sure, many activities that he was involved in. He was so full of life and energy and was inspirational to myself, and I am sure that extends to every person that he came in contact with. I was treated with honor and respect, and that is how I will remember Chief Justice Ralph Gants.

Anthony Abbene, Head Account Clerk, Middlesex Juvenile Court, Lowell, MA


You were one of a kind! This is a great loss to the legal community. My condolences to your family.

Kimberly Annesi, Assistant Clerk, Roxbury, MA


A little over 2 years ago, Chief Justice Gants spoke at the Class of 008 Court Officer Academy Graduation in New Braintree, Mass. After singing the National Anthem, I sat back down, only to be acknowledged by Chief Justice Gants and that his biggest regret was that I would not be able to recite the Cry for him. The entire auditorium laughed! It was a moment that I'll never forget! Rest Easy CJ Gants!

Stephanie Cruz, Court Officer, Boston, MA


Ralph Gants was a wonderful colleague and a good friend. He was smart, a great writer, and extremely knowledgeable. But most importantly, he was a kind, compassionate, decent individual. He was a pleasure to work with, had a sense of humor, and was collegial in every way. I enjoyed working with him. He was always prepared, and always helpful. He made us all look better. He was a good guy, and I liked him and I respected him. May he rest in peace.

Roderick Ireland, Chief Justice (Ret.) Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court


I was privileged to appear before Judge Gants in both the Superior Court and Supreme Judicial Court and to hear him speak numerous times at bar events. On the bench, he was sharp-minded and insightful, courteous to those appearing before him and sympathetic to those offering challenging arguments. He was deeply committed to justice, to access to justice and to improving the practice of law. He tirelessly gave of himself, sharing his knowledge and insights to practitioners and always delivering addresses with humor and humility. Obviously a terrible loss to our judicial system. My sympathies to the Gants family, who are undoubtedly feeling his loss most acutely.

John F. Tocci, Attorney, Boston


In addition to his intellect, I will remember Chief Justice Gants for his sharp wit. In January of 2018, Chief Justice Gants came to Essex County to commemorate the 325 anniversary of Salem as the location where the first judges sat on the Massachusetts' highest Court. I was invited to attend a reception prior to the event. I was on crutches at the time. As a result of a recent procedure, Chief Justice Gants had a bandage on his head. When we met one another, without missing a beat, he said to me that we were one fief and a drummer short of re-enacting the Spirit of '76.

Jennifer Ulwick, Probate & Family Court Judge, Salem, MA


Chief Justice Gants was a wonderful and thoughtful Judge and man.



Judge Gants spoke to a packed hearing room at the statehouse regarding the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences. Through his verbal acuity, charts and graphs Judge Gants made his case very forcefully — to the pleasure of most of the audience. For his efforts to reform our criminal system I will be forever grateful.

Charlotte Simpson


Inherently a good person. Totally qualified for the positions he held in the judiciary. He will be missed.

Hon. Patricia A. Flynn (Ret.)


I first met the Chief when I was an intern for Justice Cordy in my second year of law school. I was hard at work on a project in the library, books and loose papers strewn about my table, and my nose deep in a book. Chief Justice Gants walked past me through the library and told me that I looked "very Cordy-esque." I am sure he did not know of deeply that comment affected me and how exciting it was to have the Chief Justice of the SJC make such a comment. I am sure he would not remember my name or face now, but he was an ever present part of my practice, and his decisions both while on the SJC and when in the Superior Court were the first ones I looked to for succinct legal analysis. He will be deeply missed, as will his presence in our judiciary.

Justin Amos, Attorney, Boston, MA


Chief Justice Gants was and will always be remembered as a humble/caring man. He made it a point to make everyone that came in contact with him feel as they were the most important person in the room. Heaven received an angel - well done Chief Gants.....well done!

Andre Lamarre, Administrative Secretary, Superior Court, Boston, MA


Chief Justice Ralph Gants may you rest in peace.

Ann DiTullio, O/M Stoughton District Court


In 2017, I had the honor of interning for Chief Justice Gants through the co-op program at Northeastern University School of Law. I vividly remember when I first stepped into his chambers for an interview. I was so intimidated to be speaking one-on-one with the Chief Justice of the SJC. My intimidation quickly eroded when, to my surprise, he cracked a joke. Suddenly, I could see the man behind the gavel.

After every meeting I had with the Chief during the course of my internship--whether it was to discuss how oral arguments went or to analyze an application for Direct Appellate Review--I would always leave with a sense that I had just learned something profound. The Chief's legal analysis was unparalleled, and I can't even begin to describe how much I learned from him.

Still, I am most humbled by my opportunity (brief as it was) to become acquainted with Ralph Gants, the man. It is sometimes easy to forget that judges are not automatons solely designed to dispense justice. Not so with the Chief. Above all else, I will always remember his kindness, sincerity, quick wit, and his great sense of humor.

Matthew Perry, Attorney, Andover, MA


I continue to find myself deeply saddened by the passing of Chief Justice Gants. I am not a litigator, so my first substantive encounter with Justice Gants was when I was being considered for an appointment as member of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee in 2015. His thoughtful nature and keen intellect were readily apparent, as well as his genuine concern for the welfare of the Commonwealth's neediest residents and their need to access justice. We talked creatively about possible strategies for generating IOLTA revenue and I have been honored to continue to serve on the IOLTA Committee since. I always found him to be deeply concerned about issues of fairness and the effective administration of justice. He was an advocate for legal services and committed to creating a legal community that is collaborative, supportive and diverse. He has lead with a steady, guiding hand during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will miss his wisdom, insights and kindness.

Hannah L. Kilson, Chair of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee, Attorney, Boston, MA


I recall a particular oral argument in which Chief Justice Gants asked a question that, in essence, forced counsel for an employer to either embrace or reject the obvious extension of an argument being made. It was a powerful moment in a race discrimination case. His passing is a terrible loss.

Nancy Shilepsky, Attorney, Boston, MA


I want to give my condolences to the family of Chief Justice Gants. My late father worked with him as a prosecutor in the U..S. Attorney's Office back in the 80s. I was honored to meet Chief Justice Gants once. He was very humble and told me about a case that he worked on with my father.

Paul Healy, Shrewsbury, MA


Chief Justice Gants was a friend and mentor to me. It was Justice Gants who convinced me to take the job as Executive Director at the SJC, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. Of course, he was absolutely brilliant, which goes without saying. However, it was not his intellect, but his humanity that made him so special. I thought his great gifts were thoughtfulness and empathy, traits sometimes in short supply in his profession. I will miss him.

Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea City Manager


Even though I never had the chance of getting to know Chief Justice Gants it is obvious that he was an extraordinary person. His passing will definitely be a great loss to the SJC, the Massachusetts Trial Court, and the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I would like to express my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Below is a link to find practical suggestions for those who are grieving.
Awake! Magazine, No. 3 2018 | Help for Those Who Grieve

"Can a woman forget her nursing child
Or have no compassion for the son of her womb?
Even if these women forget, I would never forget you." Isaiah 49:15

Norma Gamboa, Spanish Interpreter


I do not have a specific remembrance of Chief Justice Ralph Gants. I just wanted to offer my condolences to his family . May God be with them and the people he served with and for in the court system. May his soul rest in peace.

Kelly Campbell, Case Specialist, Lawrence District Court


When I think of Chief Justice Gants, my first thought is not from an oral argument (although I’ve often enough been on the receiving end of his trademark barb, “Why don’t you try answering my question?”). Rather, my mind wanders back to 2010. The SJC had issued a snow-shoveling decision that summer that some felt was too onerous (Papadopoulos v. Target). So after the first big snowstorm in December, the Boston Herald – hoping to do a “gotcha” story – immediately dispatched a reporter and photographer to the home of then-Justice Gants, who had authored the decision. The Herald team arrived only to discover that the justice had not only scrupulously shoveled his walkway, but salted it as well. By way of explanation (and perhaps consolation), Justice Gants’s wife, Deborah Ramirez, informed the reporters: “He’s his own Jiminy Cricket – his own conscience.”

Thomas Townsend, Chief of Appellate Division, Northwestern District Attorney's Office


When I was in law school I had the life-altering good fortune to be assigned as an intern to Robert S. Mueller III, then First Assistant to William Weld at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston. The old federal building's worn space housed a roster of young lawyers who included two future SJC Justices. One was an unfailingly polite gentleman named Ralph Gants.

"Justice" suited him better than "judge." His questions gave attorneys a chance to step back from the prism of years of advocacy of their view of the case and consider how it intersects with the Declaration of Rights' unending arc of justice. He gave litigants an opportunity to clarify facts and case law and as-yet unsettled precepts which might have been percolating among the quorum--to glimpse the broader picture into which the Commonwealth's highest court might place the resolution of a single case. He listened to the answers.

Intellectual brilliance is bestowed on many different personalities. Only a rare person possesses the temperament to administer justice, not only by devotion to the principled application of law in every case and courtesy to all parties before him, but in a far-sighted concern for examining and addressing social justice issues in the world in which criminal cases and civil disputes arise. Justice Gants sought not just the facts but the data which, always going forward, will continue serving justice as long as the gavel falls in Courtroom 1.

Stephanie Martin Glennon, Attorney


Chief Justice Gants was a man who had a tremendous compassion for criminal defendants fighting for their lives in the criminal justice system. His passion and dedication to justice will never be forgotten. I will miss the Chief and hope that the SJC will continue all of the wonderful efforts he has made in helping people.

Veronica White, Attorney, Boston, MA


While I didn't know Justice Gants personally, I could see what sort of person he was. One can extract unmistakable Jewish values--individual dignity, rule of law, intolerance for cruelty-- by reading his opinions. He was one of very few judges that pull off being both a former Assistant US Attorney, AND a folk hero to criminal defense lawyers.

As Jewish and Interfaith families across the Commonwealth sit down together tonight for Rosh Hashana dinner, I hope we take a moment to acknowledge his commitment to trailblazing a body of law that explicitly acknowledges and accounts for the history of racism in the Commonwealth. People who would otherwise be caged are free today because of his decisions. That's a legacy to behold. Let's follow his lead in the new year.

Joe Goldberg-Giuliano, Attorney, Weston MA


Justice Gants and I did not agree about most of the cases I argued before him involving women’s or victims’ rights, but I admired his intellect and wit. One time in a social setting he asked me to guess the most memorable story he had heard about me from his colleagues on the bench. I thought about the time when I’d been sassy to Justice Liacos, and irreverent to so many other justices, during oral argument, but I told him I had no idea. He said it was when I offered to help one of his colleagues on a matter unrelated to law. He saw people.

Wendy Murphy, Attorney


I met the Chief in a packed, downtown conference room in the late 80's or early 90's. We each represented a defendant in a sprawling, multi-count federal RICO conspiracy. The prosecution targeted large scale drug dealers but also ensnared many young men and a few women of color who were bit players with little culpability and fewer options. We met as a defense team to discuss a joint defense agreement. I was quite skeptical that this former prosecutor could really care about defending or achieving justice for the people he had previously sought to imprison. That skepticism was misplaced. He cared; that was clear. To his great credit, Chief Gants continued to care and to be dedicated to justice and fairness throughout his career. It was an honor to work with him. His leadership and vision are missed. RIP.

Kenneth J. King, Associate Justice, Middlesex County Juvenile Court


My affection for Chief Justice Gants far exceeded how well I knew him. Having clerked for another justice of the SJC, I came to know then-Justice Gants walking the halls of the courthouse. Of course, his brilliant reputation preceded him. But what most impressed me then was how he went out of his way to make sure to try to connect with all of the young lawyers constantly buzzing about the courthouse during their clerkships. He invited all of the clerks over to his house for a barbecue, not just his own. He bristled against the monastic existence that appellate practice can sometimes demand. As we all see from these collected tributes to him, he touched so many lives.

After my clerkship, I eventually landed at CPCS. Besides my practice, I occasionally ran into the Chief Justice at various bar events or in the courthouse. Whenever I saw him, he went out of his way to make one thing apparent to me: he knew who I was. He always gave me a look of recognition, a kind word, and a parting joke, as if we were old friends. To be clear, I did not have the good fortune to be the Chief's friend. But what a shot of confidence it is for a young lawyer to have the Chief Justice of the SJC convey, "I know you, I respect your work, keep it up." I know he did that for countless others. For such a busy man, what a true kindness that was.

He was the smartest guy in the room, but he went out of his way to make you comfortable and confident in his presence. I will miss him greatly.

David Rangaviz, CPCS Public Defender Division Appeals Unit, Boston MA


I did not have the opportunity to work, speak with or meet Justice Gants in person, but I appreciated the result of his actions. The recent report of the study commissioned to Harvard University about the Racial Disparities in the Criminal System was the latest example. I believe we even have a more diverse workforce in the judiciary and improved access to justice and language access as a result of his leadership and the tone he set at the top.

It is a massive loss. My hope is that his legacy of inclusion, equity, justice and fight against racial disparities continues.

Deep condolences to his immediate family, colleagues, and his judiciary family.

Mariela Ames


Extraordinary leaders aren't born that way. Rather it's a call to seemingly ordinary men and women to service and leadership, often in extraordinary times. Chief Judge Gants rose to be an extraordinary leader of our courts, and in particular its judges, because he answered that call and gave himself truly to his calling. As a judge he challenged us to follow the rule of law, to examine our biases and all so we could better serve the cause of justice for and among all of our people. He urged us to hew carefully to the law and explain our rulings to help educate the public. He let each of us know that he understood and cared for us, his fellow judges. And he also appreciated the personal toll our work may sometimes exact on us.

I have been so fortunate to have served under Chief Gants and have learned much from his jurisprudence and leadership. He was an extraordinary Chief Judge.

Rosemary Connolly, Associate Justice of the Superior Court


It is was a heavy heart, filled with deep sadness that I find myself writing this. You probably wouldn't remember my name or even who I am, but Chief Justice Gants, we've met & I heard you speak at many events as I was President of MAHA, the Mass Assoc. of Hispanic Attorneys and Maya Angelou is correct in her quote, it is not just what you said or did but it was the way you made me and everyone else "feel." Your heart was pure, genuine and with profound compassion for people and making communities better. You always thought of the Underdog as your priority. Your vision was way beyond where we are in 2020. This year has taken a lot, but this is by far is the most heart-breaking. With our current political climate, in Massachusetts you were a solace in our legal system and a beacon of hope, faith and optimism. Anytime I saw your name on a SJC case I read or giving an opinion on any topic, I knew it would be on the moral campus of what is just and fair for us all. Now, all I can say is THANK YOU. THANK YOU for all the sacrifices you made, the long, hard days of work, research and thoughtful focus as you had to immerse yourself into legal studies of a variety of topics in order to reach your conclusions and articulate your decisions. I will FOREVER ADMIRE you & send my warmest condolences to your beautiful wife and family. I pray we can all strive to live for what you stand for, and that you please continue to guide us with your light & spirit. Send all my blessings.

Migdalia I. Nalls, Attorney, Boston, MA


Chief Justice Gants was a constant source of light and inspiration and hope to us. A man whose intellectual brilliance was matched by his compassion and commitment to justice, he was truly a gift.

We will miss him very much.

David H. Mirsky and Joanne T. Petito, Attorneys, Exeter, NH


I met Chief Justice Gants and his amazing wife Prof. Deborah Ramirez in winter 2009/2010 at NUSL as a law student, and worked with Prof. Ramirez briefly during my studies. They have been an inspiration throughout my career not only for their high level of professionalism, knowledge and skills but also for their humanity, kindness and compassion to the world. Chief Justice Gants' goal was always to make a better world, a more just world, a Tikkun Olam, for everyone everywhere, and he did just that. We were lucky to have Chief Justice Gants serve our Commonwealth and I was lucky to have him and his wife shape my path as an attorney.

May his soul shall be bound in the bundle of life תנצב"ה

Yael Magen, Attorney, Swampscott, MA


To the court, there are no words, all our heroes die young.

C. Francis Tynan


Chief Justice Gants struck me as an especially good jurist who went the extra mile to get things right. I most recently noted this waiting to argue a case before the SJC in February of this year. He asked a lawyer a question and then challenged the answer by revealing that he'd done some independent research the prior evening and found something that seemed contradictory, allowing the attorney to respond. I also observed his kind attention to the overall wellbeing of the bar, which I very much appreciated.

Stefan L. Jouret, Attorney, Boston, MA


Chief Justice Gants always conducted argument as a discussion between equals. What you thought mattered to him; what he believed to be important was patent, not some riddle. He was never rigid. He would consider all sides. But above all, these discussions engaged us in the work of someone else’s life and rights. He treated this monumental enterprise – every single time – with commitment, empathy, and humility. I can’t believe I am writing this in mourning.

Beth Eisenberg, Medford, MA


What a pleasure the Chief Justice was to argue before. He would get right to the heart of the issue with a direct but respectful question, while looking you in the eye and smiling. He would then ask "what do we do" about this issue. He wanted not only to understand the issue, but to understand how the decision would affect people. He wanted to write an opinion that litigants, attorneys and judges could read, understand, and use. He cared about the impact of the law, not just the rule of law.

What I remember most fondly about Chief Justice Gants was a time I ran into him outside of the John Adams Courthouse. It's one thing to be recognized with familiarity by the justices when you argue before them, but his kindness on a personal level stayed with me. It was an evening when I had stayed late for a training in Boston, and we bumped in to each other on the Common. He looked at me, recognized me and gave me a warm smile and a kind word as we passed. It was a just a brief moment but his personality shone through.

He leaves a body of law that bent the arc of the moral universe and he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Chief.

Afton Templin, Director of Juvenile Appeals/YAD/CPCS


Chief Justice Gants was a bright light on the Supreme Judicial Court. His light shone in the form of openness and consideration, in the form of consistency and fairness, in the form of legal counsel knowing that, even in the most difficult criminal cases, seeking and receiving justice was possible. This profound presence, so clothed in the ordinary, is the lifeblood of our criminal justice system, refracting itself in the hearts and minds of so many who can believe in, and pursue, evenhanded justice. That we must mark the passing of Chief Justice Ralph Dreyfus Gants is a source of such deep, deep sadness and loss. May we hold him close and live by his extraordinary example.

Robert F. Shaw, Jr., Attorney, Cambridge, MA


Chief Justice Gants was the first legal professional to whom I ever admitted that I was suffering from severe depression and had seriously considered killing myself. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting down over dinner, and he asked me how things were going. And unlike anyone else, I couldn’t hide it from him. I felt like I needed to tell him the truth, because he had always done the same to me. I honestly can’t describe how perfect his response was. He told me that he was in my court and that he would do anything I asked him to support me, and we immediately began brainstorming ways in which I could continue the practice that I found rewarding without my mind suffering to such an extreme degree.

Eventually, when the SJC convened its initial Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, he asked me if I’d share my experiences with depression in front of a plenary session of over 60 people. I accepted, and that day, sharing my story so publicly and so authentically, was one of the biggest turning points in my life. The entire stigma I’d felt, the need to hide away this shameful weakness in my resiliency, was utterly destroyed, and instead, through Chief Justice Gants’ guidance and support, I had reclaimed one of my deepest struggles and channeled it into advocacy. Without even realizing it, Justice Gants had paved my path not only to recovery, but to fighting to make the world and the legal profession safer, more inclusive and more sustainable.

Gavin Alexander, Attorney, Boston, MA (Former law clerk to Chief Justice Gants)


I first met the Chief as an overwhelmed legal intern scrambling for professional direction. Several years later, I had the extraordinary experience of clerking for him. He ended up being my greatest mentor, and an even greater friend.

It pains me to think about how much more he had in him to give to the world. My only comfort right now is sifting through my myriad memories of the times we shared.

I will miss his brilliant questions, and his even more brilliant solutions. I will miss his antiquated cultural references that went over my head. I will miss his Red Sox metaphors that also went over my head. I will miss the intense swell of pride I felt during his 2015 speech at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center when he said "[y]ou do not stand alone." I will miss him spontaneously making up new lyrics to the song "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha. I will miss hearing him request that I craft judicial opinions so that "even an intellectually curious 14-year-old" could understand the opinion. I will miss watching him absentmindedly eat an entire baguette in one sitting. I will miss the sparkle in his eye when he knew there was challenging work to be done. And I will sorely miss him next year at my wedding where he had promised to officiate.

Chief Justice Gants was inimitable. But now, we must try our hardest to step into his magnificent mind so that we may carry on his extraordinary legacy.

I hope you're still getting in good trouble, Chief.

Assistant Attorney General Abrisham Eshghi


I met Ralph Gants as a fellow member of Section 1 of the first year class at Harvard Law School in the fall of 1977. There were a number of bombastic, self-important, charismatic students. Ralph wasn't one of them. But he stood out. He was warm, witty, cheerful, humble, hard-working, and brilliant. Four decades later, as Chief Justice of the SJC, he had all those very same qualities. Despite his august position and the groundbreaking law he forged, he never strayed from his core principles and never lost his fierce sense of indignation when he perceived injustice. His untimely death is an incalculable loss, not only to the Massachusetts legal community, but to everyone whose lives he touched.

Jamie Sultan, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Boston


I had the pleasure of being the "official" refereeing the games of his Over the Hill Soccer League team twice a year, and often chatting with him afterwards. Sometimes he would empathically remark about the difficult job I had. Another time, I told him a trial judge had said he had heard that he (Gants) was a very good player. He replied, "That's the definition of hearsay." Without commenting on that, I will say that, though I relished the opportunity to say I had shown him a card, he never got close to earning one. Indeed, he often reigned in the less respectful players on his team, keeping them from getting carded. Truly, stealing from Charlotte's Web, a good person and a good writer too.

Mark Stern, Grade 7 Soccer Referee


Chief Justice Gants was a staunch supporter of the Muslim community throughout his tenure as Chief Justice. Chief Justice Gants would routinely visit the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and speak to the Muslim community after Jummah prayer. During his speech, the Chief Justice would reassure the Muslim community that no matter the national political climate, the Massachusetts judiciary would continue to protect the rights of Muslims in the Commonwealth.

On an individual level, the Chief Justice was an extraordinarily warm and kind person when I met him. He restated the judiciary's intent on supporting Muslims during a time where they may have felt threatened by the current political climate.

He will be missed.

Shaun Khan, President New England Muslim Bar Association, Attorney in Beverly MA


Chief Justice Gants was a truly wonderful person, jurist and leader. Whenever he spoke, he was funny and smart and kind. We are so lucky that he chose to devote his considerable talents to the service of the people of the Commonwealth. He had such a passion for the work of the Courts and was so determined to make us better. When I think of Chief Justice Gants I think of the words of Micah: Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

My deepest condolences to Justice Gants's family, colleagues and friends.

Susan Jacobs, First Justice Dukes Probate & Family Court


In the aftermath of a vitriolic presidential election that scapegoated Muslims, Chief Justice Gants reached out to our mosque with the offer to speak and to reassure the Muslim community that the MA judicial branch would do everything in its power to protect the rights of all of our Bay Staters, including our Muslim neighbors. He spoke at the mosque and spent time with our congregation in 2015, 2016, and 2019. It became a kind of tradition to see the Chief Justice every winter.

His words and presence were always so comforting and important to our MA Muslim community. In our own conversations with him, his genuine care for people and commitment to social justice always came through. He is a big loss to our state.

We pray for ease and comfort for his family. Rest in peace dear friend. We shall do our best to follow in your example.

Yusufi Vali, Director, Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement, City of Boston & Shaykh Yasir Fahmy, Imam, Prophetic Living


Like the entire legal community, I am still stunned by the sudden and unexpected loss of one of the best judges this state has ever known. I appeared before Judge Gants many times as a young lawyer, when he was sitting on the Superior Court. He was extremely bright, thoughtful and always attentive. It was clear that he cared sincerely about and understood clearly the enormous challenges and difficulties that lawyers and their clients often face.

One time, there was a scheduling mistake on my end, and I got a call from his session clerk informing me opposing counsel and Judge Gants were waiting for me to appear and make an argument on the docketed motion. I told her I was many miles away, driving to a deposition. She informed Judge Gants, and I could hear opposing counsel asking for sanctions for my absence. Judge Gants denied the request, and simply said, “Let’s reschedule this.” He understood that lawyers are not infallible.

Chief Justice Gants is not replaceable. Winston Churchill once said that, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” Chief Justice Gants always had the right attitude, despite the often complex, difficult and challenging issues laid before him. He was a superb jurist, but more importantly, a consummate human being. On behalf of all of my colleagues at McLane Middleton, I'd like to extend our sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of Chief Justice Gants.

Andrew Botti, Attorney, McLane Middleton


Judge Gants was a true gentleman. He was kind and relatable. I worked with him at an APO then as a PO. I was working a baseball camp that his son ended up attending. although I had not worked with him for a few years, he knew me right away and he was extremely friendly. He was a sincere and genuine person who was classy on and off the bench.

Steven Busby, Probation


A few summers ago on an August evening, my wife and I had taken our grandchildren to an amusement area on Route 28 in Harwich Port on Cape Cod. The amusement area had bumper boats in shallow water (with water guns for the kids to spray each other) and batting cages in the back. I recognized two people together at the batting cages, putting tokens into the slot and hitting fast-paced balls into the net--Superior Court Justice Robert Rufo and Chief Justice Ralph Gants.

I walked over to greet them and as we were talking, I waved to my granddaughter in the bumper boat. She responded by squirting water at the three of us, but only the Chief Justice got wet. As I tried to apologize to him, he waved me off with a smile.

When my granddaughter exited from the bumper boat, she came over to us and apologized. Having taken the spraying incident in stride, the Chief Justice proceeded to give her some batting tips at the batting cages.

What a great show of humanity and decency. May his memory live on.

Marc Perlin, Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School


The untimely death of Chief Justice Gants is an incalculable loss for the Massachusetts judiciary. His legacy of opinions, speeches and other writings will have continued impact on our jurisprudence and the administration of justice. In addition his commitment to insure equal access to the courts and the protections of the laws, United States Constitution, and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights for all will be long remembered. Judge Gants made sure everyone knew they had these protections. One example was in late 2015 a time of high anti-Islamic sentiment Justice Gants went to the Islamic Cultural Center and spoke to the congregants after prayer services to assure them that they had the laws and constitution to protect their right to practice their religion and be free from acta violence committed on them due their religion and that the members of the judiciary are aware of the obligation to enforce these rights. Chief Justice Gants is an example for us all. May he rest in peace. My sincerest condolences to his family.

Liz Cremens, Retired Associate Justice of the District Court, Watertown, MA


In 2018 I had oral arguments in front of Chief Justice Gants as a pro se attorney. The topic of discussion could be viewed as somewhat a political topic in nature as well as academic and it was also a criminal case. I have little to no formal legal training, and during oral arguments Chief Justice Gants asked a few questions but it was his demeanor and his body language that I remember forever from that morning. From my perspective he was engaged, open, kind, and attentive to a pro se litigant. The body language I observed on The Court and my post-argument reflection left me thinking that potentially two or three justices might rule or be on 'my side.' I have no idea if he was or was not, but his body language and mannerisms I observed as a lay person was that of a very kind man. In a court system and moreover in a criminal justice system 'we' all need more kind judges. For that I will forever remember the kindness in his intonation, his facial expression, and mannerism. I know he is/was a great man; it was an honor to have argued a case in front of his court. I believe more men and women of his caliber in our court systems are needed. May he Rest in Peace and I wish the peace to pass all understanding to his family and friends. Psalm 34:18

John C, Houston, TX


My name is Michael Anderson and I am a childhood friend of Ralph Gants from Larchmont, NY. We played on the Flint Park All-Stars youth baseball team, Little League, Babe Ruth League and Ralph and I played together on the Mamaroneck High School Tigers Baseball Team.

Ralph was a unique combination of humor, intelligence, compassion, athletic skill, and just a great guy who always had a smile for you. Upbeat, direct, funny and loving, Ralph was a class president, great athlete, honor student and a world-class human being.

You know, as kids you always have that sense about someone, you can't fake or fool kids - they know - and you just knew Ralph was pure....honest, innocent and.....he was really a funny person....he was the best!

My Uncle was an Episcopal Minister, and he once told me..."HE takes only the best; scoundrels like you and I will be around forever." Ralph was the best of us...from the Flint Park All-Stars to the shining star he became as a man and Chief Justice. I will miss you, old friend....RIP.

Michael Anderson, Business Owner, St Louis, MO


May you Rest In Peace. 

Nancy Kolczewski, Brockton District Court Probation


I was fortunate enough to know the Chief as a lawyer, appearing before him at trial and on appeal, and also as an officer of one of the affinity bar associations.

Chief Gants was an extraordinarily brilliant jurist with a quick wit and a razor-sharp mind, yet at the same time he had a genuine, down-to-earth persona. I remember once sitting in the gallery in his Superior Court session listening to him spend a half hour patiently explaining the law to two pro se litigants. And he was kind but direct with appellate lawyers: when one would try to pivot on an issue he’d reply “yes, but try my question.”

Owing to his tremendous contributions and commitment to the bar, the community, and to society at large, his loss to those of us who love and respect the law is deeply personal; we all lost a close family member. He was a righteous person and we were lucky to have him, albeit so briefly. We will miss him tremendously.

Thomas R. Murphy, Salem, MA; Past President, Mass. Academy of Trial Attorneys


My remembrance of the Chief Justice dates to his early days as an Assistant United States Attorney. He was responsible for a violent crimes prosecution at a time when his courtroom experience was to my knowledge limited to only a few federal trials. I had a great deal more past trials, state and federal, to rely upon which mounting a defense to these profoundly serious accusations. Then AUSA Gants demonstrated during that trial the absolute best in federal prosecutors: he was tireless and zealous in representing the Government's principled positions but he never personalized the prosecution as to my client who was alleged to be a professional criminal at the time and he never let the pursuit of a conviction compromise his discharge of his obligations to the defense and, even more memorable, his ability to stay calm in the cauldron of a hard-fought case and his willingness to see defense counsel as someone who was maximizing his client's constitutional rights to the very best of his ability rather than as someone who was simply standing in the way of a just conviction. We maintained cordiality during this lengthy and extremely hard fought trial and my respect for and admiration of the Chief Justice never wavered over the next 35 years.

Martin G Weinberg, criminal defense attorney, Boston, MA


I first knew Justice Gants when he was at Palmer & Dodge -- a firm with numerous, visionary public servants (especially as BBA leaders) -- and I was a leader of Mass. Citizens Against Death Penalty, which in '80's & '90's was a very "live" issue. Prosecutors -- both then-sitting (like Bill Delahunt ) and former ones like J. Gants -- who opposed the DP were invaluable to us in very credibly refuting the pro-DP "public safety" and retribution rationales. I recall J. Gants stepping forward out of the blue and making typically (by him) thoughtful but also passionate (within the bounds of brilliant advocacy) anti-DP public statements. Then, decades later, his SJC leadership -- and humanity -- was similarly overwhelming, like recent cases on racial profiling, including a huge one (Long) Sept. 17th! A fitting, but far too early, epitaph. I speak for innumerable crim. defense lawyers who are immeasurably sad and shocked by his untimely death, and immeasurably grateful for his contributions, leadership, and persona. My heart joins thousands in going out to Deborah & his family.

Marty Rosenthal, Brookline & Boston


My heart is heavy with sadness. Chief Justice Gants was a source of inspiration for me. His interest in data meant our office collaborated with him, often, on a range of topics; civil asset forfeitures, child welfare cases, a study by Harvard on default rates, a study by Harvard on disparities, evictions, bail — you name it, we analyzed it. I thoroughly enjoyed working towards his vision for the judiciary. Justice Gants was always thankful for the work we provided and ensured it was put to good use. It was easy to give 110% knowing that he was at the helm. I am extremely grateful to Chief Carey and Lee for allowing me the opportunity to work with such a great justice. I will miss his early morning emails, searching for data, to find solutions for the problem of the day. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Chief Justice Gants. He will be sorely missed.

Melaine Malcolm, Department of Research and Planning


Chief Justice Gants is unforgettable. Whenever our paths would cross at the back of the court house he would give me a cheery hello and how are you. When he walked away from me I felt honored to know him and I asked myself if I was living up to his, and my own expectations. His simple hello lifted my spirits and inspired me to try harder. He was a wonderful man and I will miss him. My heart goes out to his lovely family.

Deborah Patterson, Recorder, Land Court


I had the honor of serving for several years on the SJC's Access to Justice Commission, which CJ Gants co-chaired. There, I saw first-hand the depth of his commitment for greater equity in our courts and legal services. At other court and bar events, despite the many always vying for his attention, he always went out of his way to say hello to me and ask about how I was doing and how my colleagues in our court were doing.

My deepest condolences to his family and close friends. Chief Justice Gants' wonderful wit, intellect and compassion for all will be missed; may his kindness continue to live on in each one of us who were lucky to have known him.

Maureen H. Monks, First Justice, Middlesex Probate and Family Court


As these remembrances show, Chief Justice Gants had deep empathy and respect for every person he met. He had the same empathy and respect for everyone who didn’t have the privilege of meeting him. His jurisprudence is full of humanity, empathy, and love.

The Chief was a great hero to many, especially in the access to justice community. But he wasn’t trying to be anyone’s savior. He was trying to remove obstacles to allow us all to live freely and fully. He used his substantial intellect and power to make room for others to lead.

Esme Caramello, Commissioner, Access to Justice Commission


I had retired before Justice Gants became Chief. He respected the court staff; he listened and appreciated the institutional memory we kept in order for the decisions of the court to represent uniformity of style. He thought that his snow and ice case (Papadopoulos v. Target Corp.) would be his legacy. It can’t compare to the sight of Justice Gants showing up every year for the Opening Day Lunch our office hosted, his brilliant white home jersey, his cap, and possibly his glove. The image of the newly appointed Chief Justice Gants on the mound just having thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway captured what made him special.

Linda McDonald, retired, editor in the Office of the Reporter of Decisions


Smart. Wry. Dedicated. He never asked anyone to do more than he, himself, was willing to do. He challenged all of us to be our best selves. And to respect and serve everyone who entered a courthouse, no matter the circumstances.

Jennifer Grace Miller, Senate Counsel


My first encounter with Chief Justice Gants was while we both served on the Superior Court. I was immediately struck by his combination of genius and the common touch. Unlike many other high achievers, he knew what he didn't know or what he needed to learn more about. And, he had a gift for listening, one of the most important qualities in a successful leader.

I had the opportunity to work closely with Chief Justice Gants on several projects after I arrived at the Appeals Court in 2011. One, in particular, concerned the Judicial Archives--that treasure trove of permanent paper court records that dates back to the 17th century. It is the only true record of what trial and appellate judges have done since 1692. Chief Justice Gants recognized that these records had to be preserved and that active measures had to be taken to ensure that they would be accessible to all. With his support, significant progress has been made-two new talented archivists were hired, a new agreement with the Secretary of the Commonwealth was reached for expanded use of the new vaults at the State Archives, and digitization activities are underway.

In all that he did, Chief Justice Gants embodied the promise that is set forth on the seal of the SJC: "To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice."

Peter W. Agnes, Jr., Wayland, Mass.

CJ Gants led not only with his words but with his actions.

One such occasion occurred at the funeral service for Superior Court Associate Justice Patrick Brady who passed away unexpectedly soon after his retirement. Due to the overflow of people attending the service, temporary chairs had to be set up in the area of the church where a short reception was to take place at the end of the proceedings. I would say that there were close to 100 chairs. When the formal ceremony concluded the chairs needed to be quickly stacked and removed. There were only one or two people from the church who appeared to have been charged with this responsibility and it was clear that the removal of the chairs was not going smoothly or as quickly as needed.

CJ Gants was the first of the attendees to immediately help stacking the chairs until the job was complete. Not only did this small selfless gesture help to get the job done, but it encouraged other attendees to join in who then began to do so completing the task in short order. I will never forget that. He innately knew that help was needed to complete a job that had to be accomplished immediately but that he could not complete alone.

The value of leading through both words and actions is one of the great legacies that he has left.

Hon. Gregg J. Pasquale, Associate Justice of the Superior Court


To acknowledge that CJ Gants was an intellectual giant and fierce trail blazer is easy. Acknowledging that he is no longer here to guide us is not. In each and every encounter over the years at bar events, public gatherings, and even meeting on the street, the Chief always warmly greeted me, inquired about my well-being, and exchanged jokes (he even said that he liked my puns...).

He fully supported every effort at the Massachusetts Bar Association, as we developed programs to guide and support younger attorneys, participate in efforts across the Commonwealth to increase access to justice, and collaborate with the court system to make our profession better.

When I served on the SJC's Steering Committee on Attorney Well-Being, I was so pleased to learn of his passionate commitment to this critical issue. In a conversation about the Committee's resulting report, he was unequivocal. Our profession was in crisis and he intended to change that. Now, as co-Chair with Justice Botsford of the Standing Committee which he appointed, we will continue his work, ensuring that his mandate will be met. It is nearly impossible to imagine proceeding without his leadership, but we can do no less. A man like Chief Justice Ralph Gants deserves to be honored in a way that befits his life and will do that.

Denise Murphy, Co-Chair, SJC Standing Committee on Attorney Well-Being and President of the Massachusetts Bar Association


Chief Justice Gants was a leader. He did not seek the limelight or accolades – though he certainly earned them. He was in the business of working hard and working for justice. During his tenure at the Supreme Judicial Court, he was fearless in his commitment to ensuring our criminal legal system was just for all, not just those with wealth, power, and privilege.

The Chief Justice was the embodiment of an ally. He received no personal gain from doing what was right and speaking out against systemic racism, wealth disparities, and access to services and justice, but he did it anyway because he knew it was right, just, and honorable. He used his privilege and his position to help and include, to educate and elevate, to mend and amend.
His brilliance was only matched by his compassion. He embodied the highest ideals of the field of law and of humanity itself – integrity and fairness. His loss leaves a void in our courts, our communities, and in the hearts of those who knew and had the pleasure to work with him. ​May his memory be a blessing.

Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County District Attorney


I have many anecdotes about CJ Gants, but I'll share just two. One conversation we had was after a presentation in the Adams Courthouse about the rule of law during the Holocaust. I expressed to him how America had been the world's hero in WWII -- he and I both being Jewish, we had a shared perspective -- and that with today's leadership, I was concerned that we would not take that role should similar events occur today. He replied, yes, maybe not now, but we will be that again. My hopelessness diminished with just those words, with his optimism.

The other anecdote was more humorous. As I was walking into an employees-only entrance to the courthouse, I "felt" someone behind me, nearing me. I did not even want to turn to look at the person, because it would allow the person to get even closer to me -- and I knew I would not allow this person into the courthouse. (You can see where this story is going.) I scooted inside, and pulled the door behind me, proceeding to the elevator. As I was waiting for the elevator, CJ Gants entered the hallway! As I was tongue-tied with embarrassment, he put me at ease: "I too wouldn't let someone in who looked like me." Ever self-effacing, he was.

Lynn S. Muster, Deputy Chief Staff Attorney, Massachusetts Appeals Court


Chief Justice Gants radiated dedication and good humor.

I had the incredible privilege of working on a few projects with the Chief over the past couple years and appearing in front of him several times. In both contexts, he was always steeped in the details, but never lost sight of how those details fit into the broader work of the courts and how that work impacted the people of the Commonwealth.

His leadership - unparalleled and always by example - spoke volumes not only about him but about who he believed we all could be, and what he believed our system could be.  He set incredibly high standards and didn't just expect, but inspired us to live up to them.

I can only hope that we can all carry on his vision of making our system more equitable and accessible with half the passion and joy that he had.  May his memory be a blessing. 

Sarah Joss, General Counsel, Massachusetts Probation Service


I had the privilege of twice seeing Chief Justice Gants address a small group of members of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. I already knew of his acumen and accomplishments, but I was not aware of his personal warmth, humor and humility. I was looking forward to seeing him again. Now I am looking backwards and am grateful that I was able to have a brush with such an uncommon man. May his family and friends be comforted by the knowledge that his greatness has not gone unnoticed.

Lee Dawn Daniel, Attorney, Springfield MA


Every SJC opinion written by Chief Justice Gants read like poetry to me. But it wasn't just his legal mind that was impressive. It was his humble nature and his respect for all people.

I had the privilege to hear Chief Justice Gants speak many times since he was named Chief. Most of these occasions were in connection with his commitment to the Access to Justice initiative. I could never tell if the Chief Justice actually remembered seeing my face in the audience time and again, but he sure made you feel as he did! My most memorable moment with the Chief was bumping into him in my neighborhood in Beacon Hill and having a quick chat. I was so thrilled with that encounter: I felt like a teenage girl who just saw her favorite celebrity crush.

Rest In Peace, Chief. You will be missed but never forgotten.

Heather Ward, Attorney, Boston, MA


You were, and still are, an inspiration to all of us. You are sorely missed. Thank you for the example you set in caring for your fellow person. We will continue the good work you started.

Chief Justice Robert Ronquillo, Jr., Boston Municipal Court


When Judge Gants was in BLS, he was nominated to the SJC. I was covering his session on the day that the Governor's Council confirmed his nomination. It must have been a snow day or school holiday, because my daughter, who was eight at the time, was with me. I congratulated Judge Gants with great enthusiasm. He demurred in his usual humble way. I introduced him to India standing by my side, telling her that he's a judge and he's getting a new bigger judge job. He bent down and sweetly greeted her. He asked her if she wanted to know what it was like to be a judge. With her eyes wide, she nodded her head. Judge Gants opened the grand doors of the BLS. They started to walk out to the bench, but he stopped. He grabbed his robe and put it on her. "Now that's right," he said. India slowly walked out onto the imposing BLS judge's bench, the robe draped at her feet. "Go ahead, and sit in the chair." India sat down. "What do you think, would you like to do something like this?" Again, she nodded her head. Judge Gants took his time to explain where the parties sat and what goes on in a courtroom. India eagerly listened. Every now and again, CJ Gants would ask me what India was up to.
When Justice Gants was nominated to the Chief Justice position, people asked me what I thought of him for the job and I would tell them this story. I thought that if this guy would bother to spend time with a little girl like that, then we're going to be fine. And fine we were!

Elaina M. Quinn, DCA for the Superior Court


As a humble Pro se litigant in 2020, I had the utmost privilege of appearing before the SJC, led by the honorable Chief Justice Gants. If not for my legal case, I would not have had the good fortune to briefly “meet” such a highly intelligent, respected, and empathetic jurist. His loss brought tears to my eyes; the loss of a highly intelligent but oh so kind man! Despite being a non-lawyer, I had persevered in representing myself, preparing meticulously and striving to present my case clearly and concisely. I was nervous when Chief Justice Gants called me for oral argument, but I was soon struck by his unique and unexpected calming demeanor of kindness and commitment to finding truth & justice. He was never condescending to me, a non-lawyer, or insulting, abrupt, or brusque as I thought might occur. I left the courtroom, of course having no idea how a decision on my case might turn, but feeling this was one of the most positive highlights of my life: Appearing before the SJC and being questioned by Chief Justice Gants. Such an honor in my life to have my 15 minutes in his courtroom! His loss is tremendous.

Dale Young, Retired Environmentalist 


Chief Justice Ralph Gants was a humane man, sensitive to the needs of others.

My sincerest condolences to his family, whom he clearly deeply loved.
May his memory bring solace over time and always be a blessing.

Louis Frank


The loss of Chief Justice Gants is so enormous that it is painful. In addressing the MBA’s Tiered Community Mentoring Program (with high school, college and law students and attorneys) several years ago, he explained that Massachusetts judges are humble people quietly doing important work. He also spoke eloquently about the need for access to justice for all. A few years later when I was in the process of deciding whether to apply to become a Superior Court judge, his words came back to me and served as part of the basis of my decision. Now, I think of it as part of a mission statement.

His style of leadership was engaging, inclusive and tireless. He put ideas into actions in countless forums, including at the Access to Justice Commission he co-chaired. He was so gifted at problem-solving that you could almost see the wheels spinning inside his head.

I will always remember and be inspired by the open letter to the judiciary and bar in June 2020, signed by all seven justices of the SJC. It encouraged us all to do our part to root out conscious or unconscious racial bias in our courtrooms, so that we can create a place where all are equal. It was a courageous act, and embodied true vision and leadership on behalf of everyone who signed it.

Sincere condolences to Professor Ramirez, Rachel, and Michael, and to all of the rest of us who are grieving his loss as well. May his memory be a blessing, and may we all continue to find inspiration from his example.

Valerie A. Yarashus, Justice of the Superior Court


As the Chief Court Officer of the Worcester Complex I had the pleasure of working with Chief Justice Gants when the SJC had it's most recent sitting at our court. It was an honor just to be in his presence. It didn't matter to Justice Gants who you were or what title you held, he made sure to make you feel the role you played that day was the most important. At the end of the session, Justice Gants personally thanked all those who made it possible for the SJC to use our Complex.

Most recently I attended a conference at the College of the Holy Cross where Justice Gants was a guest speaker. At the end of the conference I offered to walk him to his car. As we walked up the hill from the Hogan Center to the Hart Center we talked about the direction the Trial Court was going and you could hear the excitement and love he had for what he did. As we got to the front door of the Hart Center Justice Gants turned to look at the view of the Campus from atop the hill. Or so I thought. I said to him " What a beautiful view." and he responded " Yes it is but honestly I am just trying to find my car. " We had a good laugh and proceeded to walk about a third of the way back down the hill to his car.

Justice Gants never taught or encouraged anyone to become powerful, rich or popular. What he did teach is how to be kind, compassionate, and decent to all that we may encounter. Justice Gants, those are the riches that you have left behind for us. God Bless.

John D. Noonan Chief Court Officer Worcester Court Complex


In 2010, when I was chairman of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) Board of Directors, I received a telephone call from Justice Gants. He wanted to meet me at Starbucks in Lexington (both of us resided in that town) and told me that "I'm buying". When we met Justice Gants asked me if I understood how important it was to find a replacement for Alan Rodgers, the MLRI Executive Director since 1969, who had recently announced that he was retiring. I spent the next 45 minutes explaining that not only I but the entire MLRI Board of Directors recognized the importance of finding an appropriate successor and that we had established a Search Committee to do this. I think I persuaded him that we were doing our best. In more than 45 years of appellate practice I have briefed and argued more than 150 cases before the Appellate Division, Appeals Court, Supreme Judicial Court, and 1st, 2d, and 11th Courts of Appeal. No other appellate judge has ever bought me a cup of coffee.

Richard L. Neumeier, Counsel, Morrison Mahoney, LLP

Provide your remembrance of Chief Justice Gants

Date published: September 17, 2020