Supreme Judicial Court Justices

The Supreme Judicial Court is the state's highest appellate court. The Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices who are each nominated and appointed by the Governor following a majority vote in the Governor's Council.

 Biographies and photographs of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court follow.

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants

Administered Oath July 28, 2014

Ralph D. Gants became the 37th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in July 2014 when he was sworn in by Governor Deval Patrick. He was appointed as an Associate Justice on the Court in January 2009. Before joining the SJC, he served for more than eleven years as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, and was Administrative Justice of the Superior Court's Business Litigation Session in 2008.

Chief Justice Gants was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1954. He received his B.A. from Harvard College in 1976, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. The following year, he completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England. In 1980, he earned a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where he was note editor of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson, and then served as a Special Assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster. He later was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts and Chief of the Public Corruption Unit before joining the Boston law firm formerly known as Palmer & Dodge LLP, where he practiced law until he was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor William Weld. He has taught at Harvard Law School, New England Law | Boston, and Northeastern University School of Law.   

Chief Justice Gants is chair of the SJC's Standing Committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide and the SJC Indigency Committee, and was co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission from 2010 to 2015.  

Among his awards and honors are the 2017 Massachusetts Bar Foundation Great Friend of Justice Award, the 2016 Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service, the Boston Bar Association Citation of Judicial Excellence, and the Suffolk Law School Public Service Award. He was also awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from New England Law | Boston in 2015, and the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth in 2016. Chief Justice Gants is married with two children.

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Justice Barbara A. Lenk

Administered Oath June 8, 2011

Honorable Barbara A. Lenk, Associate Justice, was born in Queens , New York.  She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Fordham  University in 1972;  a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Yale  University in 1978;  and a J.D. from Harvard  Law  School in 1979. She began her legal career in 1979 at the Boston law firm of Brown, Rudnick, Freed & Gesmer (now known as Brown Rudnick LLP), and became a partner there. Her practice focused on civil litigation, with a specialty in First Amendment matters.  Justice Lenk was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Deval Patrick in 2011. She had previously served on the Superior Court, to which she was appointed by Governor William Weld in 1993, and on the Massachusetts Appeals Court, to which she was appointed by Governor Weld in 1995. Justice Lenk has been involved in a number of bar-related and other civic activities. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association;  as Chair of the Board of Editors of the Boston Bar Journal;  and twice as co-President of the Boston Inn of Court. Justice Lenk is Chairperson of the Flaschner Judicial Institute. She also currently serves as a Trustee of Western New England University.

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Justice Frank M. Gaziano

Administered Oath August 18, 2016

Frank M. Gaziano, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, he received his B.A. from Lafayette College in 1986, and earned a J.D., magna cum laude, from Suffolk Law School in 1989. He began his legal career at the Boston law firm of Foley Hoag as a litigation associate. In 1991, he entered public service as an assistant district attorney with the Plymouth County District Attorney's Office in Brockton. In Plymouth County, he prosecuted complex felony cases, including homicides, and represented the Commonwealth on appeal before the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court. In 2001, Justice Gaziano was appointed the First Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, where he was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force. 

Governor Mitt Romney appointed Justice Gaziano as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court in 2004. Justice Gaziano served as the Regional Administrative Justice for Plymouth County and for Criminal Business in Suffolk County. He also chaired the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Criminal Rules and was a member of the Supreme Judicial Court's Model Homicide Jury Instruction Committee. He frequently presents educational programs for attorneys and judges on trial advocacy, evidence, criminal law, criminal procedure, and search and seizure.

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Justice David A. Lowy

Administered Oath August 24, 2016

David A. Lowy, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. He earned a B.A., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1983, and graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law in 1987.

Following law school, Justice Lowy became an associate in the Litigation Department of Goodwin, Procter & Hoar (1987-88 and 89-90), leaving for a year-long stint to work as a law clerk to Judge Edward F. Harrington in the U.S. District Court. He was also an assistant district attorney in Essex and Suffolk Counties (1992 -1997) and served as Deputy Legal Counsel to Governor William F. Weld (1992 -1995).

Justice Lowy was first appointed to the bench in 1997 as a District Court Judge. In 2001, Governor Paul Cellucci appointed him to the Superior Court bench.

Justice Lowy served on the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law as an Editor; the committee’s work resulted in publication of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence in 2008.

Justice Lowy's teaching positions include adjunct professorships at New England School of Law | Boston (1991- present); Suffolk University Law School (1995-2005), and Boston University School of Law (2006 - present), where he teaches courses in evidence.  

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Justice Kimberly S. Budd

Administered Oath August 24, 2016

Kimberly S. Budd, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. Justice Budd earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University, graduating magna cum laude in 1988, and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1991.

She began her legal career as a law clerk to Chief Justice Joseph P. Warner of the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 1991. She was a litigation associate at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C., before serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts in the Major Crimes and Drug Units. After that, she was a University Attorney for Harvard University in the General Counsel’s Office. She later served as Director of the Community Values program at Harvard Business School.

Justice Budd was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009. In 2016 she served as the Regional Administrative Justice for Middlesex Criminal Business.  

Justice Budd teaches in MCLE and Bar Association programs, is a former adjunct instructor at New England Law, and has taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School. She is married with two sons.

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Justice Elspeth B. Cypher

Administered Oath March 31, 2017

Elspeth B. Cypher, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. Justice Cypher was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1959. She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Emerson College in 1980 and a J.D., cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 1986, where she served on the Suffolk University Law Review.

From 1986 to 1988, she was an associate at the Boston law firm of Grayer, Brown and Dilday. In 1988 she became an Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County, where she served for the next twelve years. From 1993 to 2000, she was chief of the Appellate Division of that office and argued many cases before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court. In 2000 Governor Paul Cellucci appointed her to the Appeals Court, and she took her seat as an Associate Justice on December 27, 2000.

For many years Justice Cypher was an adjunct professor at Southern New England School of Law (now the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth), where she taught courses on legal writing; criminal procedure; criminal law; and women, law, and the legal system. She has participated in numerous educational programs for judges and lawyers and has written extensively about developments in criminal law in Massachusetts. Active in the Massachusetts Bar Association, Justice Cypher has served as co-chair of its criminal law section. She was the recipient of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's Lawyer of the Year Award in 2000 for her work in the long running prosecutions of James M. Kater for the murder of Mary Lou Arruda.  

In 2012, Justice Kent B. Smith asked her to co-author a fourth edition of his books in the Massachusetts Practice Series, Criminal Practice and Procedure. Before he passed away in October, 2012, she assumed responsibility for the supplement in 2013 and the fourth edition was published in 2014.

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Justice Scott L. Kafker

Administered Oath August 21, 2017

Scott L. Kafker, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie D. Baker on August 21, 2017. Prior to this appointment, Justice Kafker served as Chief Justice of the Appeals Court from 2015 to 2017.     

Justice Kafker graduated from Amherst College in 1981 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985, where he was on the Law Review. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Justice Charles L. Levin of the Michigan Supreme Court, then as a law clerk to Judge Mark L. Wolf of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In 1987, he joined the Boston law firm of Foley, Hoag & Eliot as an associate. From 1991 to 1993, Justice Kafker was deputy chief legal counsel to Governor William F. Weld. In 1993, he was named chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Port Authority. He was appointed to the Appeals Court by Governor Paul Cellucci and joined the Court on March 7, 2001. Governor Baker appointed him the sixth Chief Justice of the Appeals Court on July 22, 2015.

Justice Kafker taught state constitutional law at Boston College Law School from 2009 to 2015.  He has also served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of book reviews, comments and articles appearing in the University of Chicago Law Review, The Labor Lawyer, Massachusetts Law Review, Michigan State Law Review, New England Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, and the Rutgers Law Journal. He served on the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure from 2008 to 2015. He is also a member of the American Law Institute.

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