News from the Courts

Issue May/June 2017

O'Toole Jr. to become senior judge of U.S. District Court

Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. of the United States District Court of the District of Massachusetts has advised President Trump that he will become a Senior Judge as of Jan. 1, 2018. O'Toole received his commission from President William Clinton in 1995.

"When Judge O'Toole became a federal judge in 1995, he brought to our court a wealth of experience as a state judge, as well as a private litigator," Chief Judge Patti B. Saris said. "Throughout his career, he has epitomized the learned, careful, fair-minded judge. He has presided over some of the District's most important cases, including most prominently the Boston Marathon bombing trial. Luckily for all of us, Judge O'Toole will continue to serve as a senior judge on the court."

Throughout his tenure on the court, O'Toole has been active in judicial administration. At the local level, he has served at various times as the court's liaison judge to the magistrate judges, the pretrial services office, the pro se staff attorneys and the media. He is currently a member of the court's internal committee on information technology. At the national level, he has served as a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Security and Facilities (1999 to 2005) and Committee on Judicial Security (2005 to 2007). He is currently a member of the Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System.

O'Toole has been a frequent participant and presenter at educational panels sponsored by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Federal Judicial Center, law schools, bar associations and similar organizations. He is a member of the Boston Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, currently serving as its vice president.

Prior to joining the federal bench, O'Toole served as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court (1990 to 1995) and the Boston Municipal Court (1982 to 1990). Before that he was engaged in the private practice of law as a litigator with the Boston firm of Hale and Dorr, now WilmerHale. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. He earned his baccalaureate degree from Boston College.

Conrad reappointed federal public defender for the districts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island

Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit announced that Miriam Conrad has been reappointed to a fourth term as federal public defender for the districts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Conrad has served as federal public defender since 2005. Before her appointment to this role, she served as an assistant federal public defender in the Massachusetts office from 1992 to 2005. Conrad received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1987.

First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David J. Barron, chair of the Reappointment Committee, stated that "the First Circuit Court of Appeals is confident that Ms. Conrad will continue to serve expertly the Districts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island as Federal Public Defender." Howard expressed his gratitude to Barron for serving as chair of the committee. The chief judge also sincerely thanked Professor Ronald Sullivan Jr. of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Jaye Rancourt of Manchester, New Hampshire; Kara Hoopis Manosh, of Warwick, Rhode Island; and Susan Goldberg, circuit executive, for their efforts as members of the committee.

SJC approves amendments to Rule 55 (b) (4) of the Mass. Rules of Civil Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court has approved amendments to Rule 55 (b) (4) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, effective May 1. Visit to view the amendments.

Judicial performance evaluations begin for judges in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties

Judges in the District Court, Superior Court, Juvenile Court, Probate and Family Court, and Housing Court in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties will be evaluated through June. Members of the bar should receive an email asking for participation in the Judicial Performance Evaluation. Full participation of the bar in judicial evaluation is crucial to maintaining a high-quality judicial branch.

This evaluation system is the best way for members of the bar to tell the judge and court leadership about their experiences before the judge. Responding attorneys will remain anonymous.

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