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BOSTON, MA — After 28 years on the bench, the last ten as an Associate Justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Honorable Margot Botsford serves her last day with the Court today, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Reflecting on Justice Botsford's decade on the Supreme Judicial Court bench, Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants said, "I am slowly moving through the five stages of grief at her departure from this Court, and I know that everyone at the Court shares that grief. I take solace in knowing that there will be yet another chapter in her life in the law and that she will continue to be a mentor, an educator, and a wise advocate." On Tuesday, February 14, Chief Justice Gants made special remarks in the Seven Justice Courtroom prior to oral arguments recognizing Justice Botsford on her last Sitting Week at the court. On Wednesday, March 8, the Governor’s Council unanimously confirmed Appeals Court Justice Elspeth “Ellie” Cypher to the Supreme Judicial Court. She will fill the seat vacated by Justice Botsford.
"I really knew very little about what a judge did, but I clerked right out of law school for SJC Justice Francis Quirico, who was a wonderful judge. Having had the opportunity to serve as a judge for 28 years, I can say that working in the Massachusetts Court system is a dream come true," said Justice Margot Botsford. "The court system is filled with people - judges, clerks, court staff - in all the courts who are dedicated to providing justice to the litigants and others who appear in our courts and need our courts every day, and it has been nothing but a privilege to work with them and to serve the same goal. I am very proud of our judicial system and feel proud and very lucky to have had the opportunity to serve for so long."
"Justice Botsford was an outstanding trial judge on the Superior Court. She was my mentor when I was a new Superior Court judge. If you had a tough murder trial or complex business litigation, she was the judge of choice," said Chief Judge Patti B. Saris of the Federal District Court. "She was a role model for so many women because of her sheer intelligence and hard work without an ounce of arrogance. Throughout her career, Justice Botsford was a leader among leaders in fighting for women, the poor, education and justice."
A resident of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Justice Botsford was born in New York, New York on March 16, 1947. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1969. In 1973, she earned a Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law, and in 2007, a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. After graduating from law school, she served as Law Clerk to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis J. Quirico.
During the next sixteen years she worked primarily in the public sector. She served four years as an Assistant Attorney General under Attorney General Frank Bellotti, and later as an Assistant District Attorney in the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Scott Harshbarger for six years. She also practiced law in the private sector for one year as an associate at the firm of Hill & Barlow, and three years as a partner in the Boston law firm of Rosenfeld, Botsford & Krokidas, where she did many hours of pro bono work.
In 1989, Governor Michael Dukakis appointed Margot Botsford as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court, where she served for eighteen years. Governor Deval Patrick appointed Justice Botsford to the Supreme Judicial Court on September 4, 2007.
Throughout her career, Justice Botsford has been passionate about contributing to public education. In 2000, Brookline High School created an initiative called The African American Scholars Program to encourage high academic achievement among African American students. Justice Botsford helped organize and launch the program's second year in the fall of 2001, because the program was without a director at that time. African American Scholars Program operated through that 2001-2002 year, and it has since expanded and continues to operate, now known as the African American and Latino Scholars Program, (AALSP).
Justice Botsford is a Trustee Emerita of Northeastern University, and has taught at the university's law school. She served on the governing boards of Northeastern University first as a member of the corporation, then as an overseer, and, starting in 1999, as a member of the University's board of trustees.
Among her awards and honors are Judicial Excellence Awards from the Massachusetts Judicial Conference and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, the Haskell Cohn Distinguished Judicial Service Award from the Boston Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association President’s Award, Barnard College Distinguished Alumna Award, and honorary degrees from Northeastern University School of Law and New England Law | Boston.