Many years ago, when I shared a brown-bag luncheon at the
Thorndike Library with then Superior Court Judge Ralph Gants, along
with several other dedicated justices, I don't think either of us
could have envisioned that the thoughtful, humble man I was talking
with would one day be named chief justice of the Supreme Judicial
Court. Now that it has actually happened, I could not be more proud
of him or more excited for all of us.
Since those first informal meetings, I've had the good fortune
to work with Justice Gants on many projects and grown to know him
better as a jurist and as a friend. I can say without reservation
that, like us, Justice Gants is someone who is committed to making
sure the underrepresented receive justice in our system.
Just look at some of Justice Gants' laudable accomplishments on
the Access to Justice Commission, especially as they relate to
support for those less fortunate who are in need of legal
assistance. He is responsible for the $51 opt-out attorney
registration fee under SJC Rule 4:03, as well as the fee for pro
hac vice appearances under SJC Rule 3:16 - fees which together
generate approximately $1.5 million per year for legal services for
Justice Gants has also established a pilot program of court
service centers in Boston and Greenfield, which is expected to
expand statewide. He spearheaded a legislative effort to expand the
Housing Court to provide access for the 31% of Massachusetts
residents who are presently denied same because of where they
As a member of the Supreme Judicial Court Pro Bono Committee,
Justice Gants has been working on new pro bono initiatives,
including a provision which allows for pro bono work here in the
commonwealth by lawyers not admitted in Massachusetts.
The list goes on. No other judge I know of has done so much for
those in need. Many talk about access to justice but Justice Gants
gets it done. He is unprecedented in his accomplishments, efficient
in his use of resources and extremely effective at seeing
initiatives followed through to successful completion.
Like Justice Gants, the Massachusetts Bar Association has never
changed its commitment to justice and fairness. From representing
marathon survivors, including those with invisible injuries like
traumatic brain injury (TBI), to feeding the less fortunate over
Thanksgiving, our accomplishments this past year have carried on
the MBA's storied history of representing the underrepresented.
Our shared values are why the MBA and Justice Gants have always
worked well together. I know our working relationship will grow
even stronger, because Justice Gants hasn't changed, and neither
Just last summer, before my presidency started, Justice Gants
and I got together for a brief bench/bar walk, where we decided to
bring judges and attorneys together by reinstituting the brown-bag
luncheons. We conduct them regularly with the SJC. The MBA is now
attempting to establish them with every court, and with our
ever-committed clerks, as well.
You see, Justice Gants is not only a champion of access to
justice; he is also a champion of lawyers' access to our courts.
That's why I invited him to be the first guest speaker of the year
at our House of Delegates. He honored us there and continues to do
so through his participation at many other MBA events.
Justice Gants has always been a justice of superior intellect,
but he has never been constrained by the walls of an ivory tower.
He does not know the meaning of arrogance. He is the most
compassionate and able judge I know, and I am not alone in my
Justice Gants will soon be Chief Justice Gants, but I have no
doubt that he will remain the same brilliant, humble, accessible
person he was so many years ago over our first brown-bag lunch.