More than 20 judges from the Massachusetts Superior Court,
Appeals Court, Supreme Judicial Court and U.S. District Court
participated in a staged reading and discussion of Shakespeare's
The Merchant of Venice at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in
Boston on June 21.
The event, part of the Federalist Society and Commonwealth
Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare and the Law series, and
co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association, drew more than
300 people. The event began with a special tribute to retiring
judges Judith A. Cowin, John C. Cratsley, Wendie I. Gershengorn,
Nancy Gertner, Margaret R. Hinkle and Stephen E. Neel, and featured
performances by Appeals Court Judges Andrew R. Grainger and
Gabrielle R. Wolohojian as Shylock and Portia.
"Shakespeare and the Law has become a signature event in the
Boston legal community," said event producer and moderator Daniel
Kelly, a partner with McCarter & English LLP in Boston and
chair of the Boston Lawyers Division of the Federalist Society.
"Four hundred years later, Shakespeare's plays provide a unique
opportunity for people of all political persuasions and backgrounds
to discuss issues, both universal and particular, that confront
lawmakers, lawyers and judges."
In addition to a staged reading, the program included a pointed
debate on the meaning and limitations of the rule of law and how
equity and mercy should inform a judge's decision in civil and