Joseph R. Nolan served on the Appeals Court from 1980 to 1981. Governor Edward King appointed him to the Supreme Judicial Court, where he served for fourteen years until he reached the mandatory retirement age in 1995. Justice Nolan authored and coauthored several books on appellate procedure, equitable remedies, tort law, civil practice, and criminal law. He also served as a professor at Suffolk University Law School.
Prior to joining the Appeals Court, Justice Nolan served on the Superior Court and the Brighton Municipal Court. Earlier in his career, Justice Nolan served as General Counsel to the Massachusetts Lottery Commission and was an associate at the law firm of Mansfield, Connolly and Gartland in Boston. A veteran of the United States Navy, Justice Nolan received his undergraduate and law degrees from Boston College. He later received that law school's St. Thomas More Award for distinguished service in professional and private life. Justice Nolan died on April 23, 2013.