Issue July 2013

Justice with dignity and speed: The Hon. Paula M. Carey set to lead Trial Court

Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has been tapped to lead the Massachusetts Trial Courts starting July 16, upon the retirement of Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan. No newcomer to the system, Carey has led the Probate and Family Court for the past six years and oversaw an ambitious reform of child support guidelines. She was first appointed to the bench in 2001, by the late Gov. Paul A. Cellucci.

"Chief Justice Carey's genuine leadership abilities will ensure her success as the next Chief Justice of the Trial Court. She is energetic and has a collaborative, consensus-building approach to resolving issues. She effectively introduced major, complex reforms in the Probate and Family Court with her mission-driven style and legendary work ethic. Chief Justice Carey is accessible, compassionate and treats everyone, regardless of station or status, with the utmost respect,"  Mulligan said.

Taking stock

Charlie Parker and Miles Davis were groundbreaking jazz musicians. Both had breathtaking skill on their respective instruments, saxophone and trumpet. They were very different players. A measure of a Parker tune would be filled with more notes than you could count. By contrast, a measure of a Davis tune would have a lot of space. With those differences in mind, the similarities were that the tone of each note in a measure would be exquisite.

As an English major in college, I was exposed to a lot of focus on tone. I was required to take a full year of Shakespeare, which I did as a sophomore. The professor was Theodore Baird. Baird was an imposing individual, a "Paper Chase" Kingsfield type. As chairman of the English Department, he was a powerful faculty member. Above all, he was a gifted teacher. His approach in each class was the same: some lad would be called on to engage in a dialogue with Professor Baird about specific language in whatever play or sonnet we were reading at the time. How long that dialogue would last depended on many factors, but the less prepared you were, the more likely you were to be engaged in a prolonged discussion. Allan Albert, an outstanding student, was in that class with me. He later became a highly regarded theatrical director and innovator, one of his projects being the improvisation theater group he started in Cambridge, which launched the career of Jane Curtin of "Saturday Night Live" fame, among others. On one occasion, when Baird called on Albert, the dialogue lasted no more than a few minutes, with Baird intoning, "Mr. Albert, those were very insightful comments. I think I shall have some fun with someone else now." Had I been the object of Baird's "fun," I assure you my comments would have been less insightful than Allan Albert's.

A case study in human nature

Terrence W. Kennedy recounts an often-circulated aphorism: "The last day a judge ever has to have humility is the day [he or she] appears before the Governor's Council."

That's become more relevant since the Governor's Council lost it's vote tie-breaker with the resignation of Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray. Because there is no constitutional provision in the state constitution to replace a lieutenant governor who has resigned, the eight-member council will, for the remaining 18 months of Gov. Deval  L. Patrick's term, be making decisions without the ninth-vote function provided by the lieutenant governor ex officio.