Gov. Maura Healey on Wednesday is nominating Appeals Court Judge Gabrielle Wolohojian to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Judicial Court, elevating to the state’s highest court the longtime appellate judge who is also the governor’s former partner.
Wolohojian was nominated to the Appeals Court by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007, and has sat on more than 2,700 appeals and authored more than 900 decisions since taking the bench in February 2008. She serves as chair of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Advisory Committees on the Rules of Appellate Procedure and of the Appeals Court’s Committees on Judicial Mentoring and Training, Education, Policies and Practices, and En Banc Rehearings.
Healey is nominating Wolohojian to fill the vacancy created by last week’s resignation of Justice David Lowy, a Gov. Charlie Baker appointee who left the SJC for a job at the University of Massachusetts. It also comes days after the first sitting for Healey’s first SJC nominee, Justice Bessie Dewar. The nomination now goes to the Governor’s Council for its consideration and an eventual confirmation vote.
“There is no one more qualified or better prepared to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court than Justice Wolohojian. She will bring over three decades of broad trial and appellate experience, including sixteen years on the Appeals Court,” Healey said in a statement that did not reference the fact that the two women were previously in a domestic relationship and lived together in Charlestown. “Justice Wolohojian has served on the Appeals Court with distinction and her work is widely respected by members of the bench and bar. She has an exceptional understanding of the law and a strong commitment to the administration of justice.”
Before being appointed to the bench, Wolohojian was a senior partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, worked in the office of the independent counsel during the early days of the Whitewater scandal that eventually enveloped the Clinton presidency and resulted in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and defended pharmaceutical giant Wyeth in over 2,600 Massachusetts liability cases that emerged out of the use of diet drugs.
She also clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel and the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bailey Aldrich. Wolohojian is an accomplished violinist and has performed as part of the Boston Civic Symphony and the Boston Bar Orchestra.
Retired SJC Justice Geraldine Hines said Wolohojian is “uniquely qualified to join the Supreme Judicial Court at a time when it enjoys and is committed to maintaining its reputation as one of the most respected state supreme courts in the country.”
“This is a difficult job that demands intellectual vigor, respect for the rule of law, an unwavering commitment to equal justice under the law, and an impeccable work ethic. From our time together on the Appeals Court and from my conversations with colleagues who have continued to serve on the court, I can say that Justice Wolohojian is richly blessed with these qualifications, as exemplified in her record of achievement as a lawyer and jurist,” Hines said. “She has also mastered the under-appreciated but important skill so critical to appellate judging: the ability to accept and coax consensus from the inevitable debates that arise when seven justices with diverse background, life experiences and judicial philosophies are called upon to decide the difficult and complex issues of law presented to the court.”
Healey previously lived in Charlestown with Wolohojian, who was identified as Healey’s partner as early as October 2013 when Healey first announced she would run for attorney general. Before being elected governor in 2022, Healey had moved to the South End and then Cambridge. She now lives in Arlington with her partner, Joanna Lydgate.
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