By Seth Daniel
Though many haven’t fol
owed it that closely, the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is in the midst of an unprecedented turnover in justices.
Within an year’s time, five of the seven justices will have been replaced, and Governor’s Councillor Terrence Kennedy said this week that he hopes to be re-elected and believes now is not the time to change leadership on the Council – which oversees the appointment of judges.
“There’s been a real turnover in the judiciary over the last five years – a record number of judges replaced,” he said from his Everett law office recently. “The most significant turnover, and something I think is very, very important, is in the last six months, three sitting SJC justices have suddenly and unexpectedly stepped down. Two more are scheduled for retirement soon. That means five of the seven justices will be replaced by this governor and the Council will have a lot of work ahead of it to review those appointments. We just approved the first two. That will have an impact on the people of the Commonwealth for 20 years or more. The average age of the appointees is 52, so they will likely be there a long time…This is one of the most important things going on in the Commonwealth right now.”
An Everett native and Lynnfield resident, Kennedy is still a hard-working attorney – having a court day most every weekday. With more than 30 years experience practicing law, he took that experience to the voters and was first elected in 2010. After being sworn in in January 2011, he began his work on the Governor’s Council, which approves appointments to the judiciary, to the Parole Board, the Appellate Tax Board, Clerk Magistrates and other such positions.
That review process has been important over the years, and Kennedy said it will be even more critical with the SJC openings and other Appeals Court openings and some 50 openings for appointments in the coming eight months.
“It’s important you have someone in there who knows what they’re doing and is qualified to do it and is a lawyer,” said Kennedy. “I have experience for five years. I put a lot of time into it and I enjoy it…These appointments are coming from a Republican governor…One thing I’ve been trying to do is to be sure these people the governor nominates aren’t extremists. So far that hasn’t been the case.”
Kennedy represents the 6th District in the Governor’s Council, which is a vestige back to the days of the King of England’s King’s Council. The expansive district stretches from Lynn to Revere to Winthrop to Everett and Boston and beyond.