Judge’s Surprise Retirement Gives Maura Healey High Court Pick In Massachusetts

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/06/13/judges-surprise-retirement-gives-maura-healey-high-court-pick-in-massachusetts/

By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

Elspeth Cypher plans to step down from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in January 2024, giving Governor Maura Healey a chance to appoint someone to the state’s highest court early in her first term.

The court announced Monday, June 12 that Cypher, who turned 64 in February 2023, will retire from the court on January 12, 2024, after a nearly seven-year tenure. A court spokesman said Cypher “wants to devote her time to teaching and research.”

Cypher plans to take a position at Boston College Law School for the spring 2024 semester as a Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law. She said in a written statement that she is “looking forward to pursuing my love of teaching.”

Her departure will come several years before Cypher turns 70, the mandatory retirement age for Massachusetts judges, and creates the first vacancy on the state Supreme Judicial Court since Healey was elected in November.

Healey’s predecessor as governor, Charlie Baker, saw the entire court turn over during his two terms and appointed all seven current members.

“On behalf of the people of Massachusetts, I’d like to offer our deep gratitude to Justice Cypher for her decades of service to our state and wish her the very best in her well-earned retirement,” Healey said. “Our administration is committed to appointing a distinguished Supreme Court Justice who will uphold justice, equality, and the rule of the law.”

A 1986 Suffolk University Law School graduate, Cypher began her legal career as an associate at the Boston law firm of Grayer, Brown, and Dilday, and then spent nearly two decades in the Bristol County district attorney’s office as an assistant district attorney and then chief of the appellate division.

She joined the judiciary in 2000, after Governor Paul Cellucci appointed her as a state Appeals Court justice and she won approval from the Governor’s Council. Baker picked her in 2017 for a spot on the state’s highest court, and again the elected council confirmed her.

“Justice Cypher has brought her keen knowledge of the law and the constitution to the appellate courts for over two decades, serving on the Supreme Judicial Court for the past six years,” said Kimberly Budd, chief justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court. “She has been an exceptional friend and colleague and an active role model to the many people who count her as a mentor. We are deeply grateful for her service to the people of the Commonwealth.”

Healey has not nominated any judges six months into her four-year term. Several openings loom on the state Superior Court.

Last week, Healey sent her first nomination to the Governor’s Council, proposing another five-year term on the state Parole Board for Dr. Charlene Bonner.

A Healey spokesman said the governor plans to form a nominating commission to navigate the process of picking Cypher’s replacement, and added that the administration “will have more details in the coming weeks.”

Born in 1959, Cypher is still more than half a decade away from bumping up against mandatory retirement age of 70 — in fact, none of the current Supreme Judicial Court justices will hit that threshold during Healey’s current term as governor.

While many serve until they turn 70, some judges have opted to leave before reaching obligatory retirement, such as Justice Robert Cordy, who in 2016 departed the state Supreme Judicial Court to return to his former law firm.


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