February 10, 2016
Statement of Boston Bar Association President Lisa G. Arrowood on the retirement of Justices Cordy, Duffly and Spina from the Supreme Judicial CourtPress Release
The extraordinary tenures of Justices Cordy, Duffly, Spina will leave an indelible mark of excellence on both the Massachusetts Judiciary and the legal profession, each in his and her own significant way.
- Justice Robert Cordy will be long remembered for his leadership in the restoration of the historic John Adams Courthouse and the construction of much-needed new courthouses in Worcester, Salem, Fall River and Plymouth, resulting in improved access to the justice for people across the Commonwealth. Outside the courts, his commitment to educating young lawyers – something that is of utmost importance to the BBA – is laudable. Not only is Justice Cordy a volunteer leader with the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, he also serves as an adjunct professor at the New England School of Law Boston.
- Justice Fernande Duffly’s legacy is one of inclusion and collaboration; she has worked throughout her career to bring all women and minorities in the legal community together for the purpose of improving the legal profession for all. From the beginning of her legal education and throughout her career, she has worked to build a broader, more diverse legal community. During her tenure as president of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), she initiated and promoted collaborative relationships between women judges, legislators, educators, and practitioners to increase diversity in the profession. She also has worked with governors and senators throughout the country to place more women on the bench in state and federal courts.
- Justice Francis Spina has been a dedicated advocate for legal aid and improving access to justice, one of the pillars of the BBA’s mission. His more than 400 well-reasoned majority opinions make Justice Spina one of the most prolific authors on the bench. As just one example, Justice Spina drafted the unanimous ruling stating that people who pleaded guilty in cases where evidence was mishandled by disgraced state chemist Annie Dookhan cannot be charged with more serious crimes if given a new trial and, if convicted, cannot be given a tougher sentence than originally was imposed. The opinion was hailed by the defense bar and civil libertarians as a landmark decision that safeguards the rights of citizens prosecuted with tainted evidence. This principle is underscored in the BBA’s 2009 report, Getting it Right: Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System in Massachusetts.
We have the highest respect and admiration for their remarkable service to the Commonwealth, and wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.