Massachusetts Appeals Court Associate Justice James F. McHugh
has accepted a number of administrative judicial tasks over his
career, including: overseeing the implementation of the MassCourts
computer system for all seven trial court departments, and serving
on the Supreme Judicial Court Committee on Judicial Ethics and the
Task Force for Hiring in the Judicial Branch.
But his philosophy for handling such challenges was reflected in
an incident that preceded his legal career, during his active-duty
service in the U.S. Navy, from 1965 to 1967.
McHugh was stationed on the USS Renville, an APA-227 transport
ship that shuttled Marines between San Diego and training camp in
Okinawa, and then to Vietnam. The ship, built in 60 days in 1945
and designed to last a single trip because of the destroyers' high
casualty rate, was still steaming back and forth 20 years later.
During McHugh's sojourn, the single turbine that drove the ship
developed a steam leak that defied two efforts to repair it. The
ship sailed to Sasebo in Japan for a third attempt at repair.
He recalls a woman coming to the engine room, carrying sandpaper
for metals, and calipers. She spent four 12-hour days at her task,
hand-sanding the turbine and having the crew turn it every so
often. Once it was put back together, "it never leaked again," says
McHugh. "If you get the right people, with the right attitude to
get the job done, that worked [in this case] and it works
everywhere. That's critical to keep in mind."