Ralph Gants
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
July 28, 2014 – September 14, 2020
Appointed byDeval Patrick
Preceded byRoderick L. Ireland
Succeeded byBarbara Lenk
(Acting)
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
January 29, 2009 – July 28, 2014
Appointed byDeval Patrick
Preceded byJohn Greaney
Succeeded byGeraldine Hines
Personal details
Born(1954-09-29)September 29, 1954
New Rochelle, New York, U.S.
DiedSeptember 14, 2020(2020-09-14) (aged 65)
Political partyDemocratic
EducationHarvard University (BA, JD)
University of Cambridge

Ralph D. Gants (September 29, 1954 – September 14, 2020) was an American attorney and jurist who served as the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He was sworn in on July 28, 2014.[1] Gants had previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney.

Early life and career

Gants was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1954. He received his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1976, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.[2] The following year he completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England.[3] In 1980, he earned a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where he was notes editor of the Harvard Law Review.[4]

Career

After graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson.[5] From 1981 to 1983, he was Special Assistant to Judge William H. Webster, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[6] In 1983, he was appointed Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, serving as Chief of Public Corruption Division from 1988 to 1991.[4] In 1991, he joined the Boston law firm of Palmer & Dodge LLP, becoming a partner in 1994.[7] He taught at Harvard Law School, New England School of Law, and Northeastern University School of Law.[8]

Gants was a proponent of criminal justice reform throughout his career, and he worked with the Massachusetts General Court in passing a criminal justice reform bill in 2018. He was also an outspoken opponent of mandatory minimum sentences, having told the Judiciary Committee in 2015, "If you do not abolish minimum mandatory sentences for drug offenses, you must accept the tragic fact that this disparate treatment of persons of color will be allowed to continue."[9]

Judicial service

He was appointed as a Judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1997 by Governor William Weld.[9] In 2008, he served as Administrative Justice of the Superior Court's Business Litigation Session.[7] Governor Deval Patrick appointed Justice Gants to the Supreme Judicial Court in December 2008 and he took office in January 2009[8] after being confirmed by the Governor's Council.[8] Upon learning of his nomination, a Governor's Councillor remarked, "Ralph Gants is a mensch, and the bench needs a mensch."[10] On April 17, 2014, he was nominated by Governor Patrick to replace Roderick L. Ireland as Chief Justice after his retirement; he was confirmed by the Governor's Council and was sworn in on July 28, 2014.[11] The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts announced that the courts will be closed on Friday, September 18, 2020 as a day of remembrance for Chief Justice Gants.[12]

Personal life

Justice Gants was married with two children.[8] Gants died on September 14, 2020, at the age of 65. He had previously suffered a heart attack.[5][13]

References

  1. ^ "Honorable Ralph D. Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court Administered Oath of Office". Public Information Office, Supreme Judicial Court, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. July 28, 2014. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants to resume full duties following heart attack, surgery". WFXT. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  3. ^ "Mass. Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants dies, at 65". telegram.com. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Ralph Gants, Chief Justice of Massachusetts' Top Court, Dies". NBC Boston. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Massachusetts top judge Ralph Gants dies following recent heart attack | Boston.com". www.boston.com. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  6. ^ "Mass. SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants Says He Suffered Heart Attack Friday". NBC Boston. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants dies 10 days after suffering heart attack". WFXT. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Calif. Democrats express optimism, poised for 2012". Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants dies at 65". masslive. September 14, 2020. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "Gants blog: Live blog from Gants' SJC hearing". Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
  11. ^ "Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants Dies At 65". www.wbur.org. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  12. ^ "Statement by the Associate Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court Regarding Day of Remembrance for Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants | Mass.gov". www.mass.gov. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Staff, Writer (September 14, 2020). "Mass. Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants dies after heart attack". WCVB-TV. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Greaney
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
2009–2014
Succeeded by
Geraldine Hines
Preceded by
Roderick L. Ireland
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
2014–2020
Vacant