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Introduction

JENNIFER A. SUNDERLAND

Justice Robert Cordy retired from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial


Court (SJC) in August of 2016. He served on the Court for fifteen years
and authored more than 440 opinions, including concurrences and
dissents. As if the day job responsibilities of being a judge on the oldest
court in continuous operation in the Western hemisphere werent enough,
he also managed to find time to oversee the substantial four year
renovation of the John Adams courthouse, built in 1894 by architect George
A. Clough soon after his appointment to the bench in 2001. Not content to
limit his influence to helping improve the physical locations of justice in
the Commonwealth, he also served as a chair of the Courts Rules and
Judiciary-Media Committees and helped to implement the institutional
reforms of the Visiting Committee on Managements 2003 report.
Meanwhile, he expanded his influence to include prospective lawyers by
teaching Advanced Criminal Procedure at New England Law | Boston.
Not satisfied with simply ensuring the future success of the legal
profession, he also made time to work with judges, court officials, and bar
organizations from around the world to improve the rule of law in places
like Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. All of these activities have
helped to cement his legacy as a committed and brilliant jurist and
dedicated member of the Massachusetts legal community.
He has another legacy, however, and one which is not necessarily
celebrated publicly or with any fanfare. He has been instrumental to the
professional and personal development of each of his law clerks. This
accomplishment is no less important, as his law clerks, having benefited
from his mentorship, populate the Massachusetts legal community and
beyond. Three of those law clerks, Judi Goldberg, Mathilda McGee-Tubb
and Justin Amos, have authored pieces which explore and celebrate Justice
Cordys legacy on the Court.
Judi Goldberg, who was the Justices law clerk during his first full year
on the Court in 2001, interviewed him after his retirement for his
reflections on his fifteen year tenure as a judge on the states highest court.


Partner, Melick & Porter, LLP; Law Clerk to Justice Robert J. Cordy (2009-2010); J.D., New
England Law | Boston; B.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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2017 New England Law Review 89

In their wide-ranging interview, Justice Cordy discussed everything from


his initial thoughts and feelings upon being appointed to the bench to
those jurisprudential issues with which he was particularly concerned
such as the importance of the separation of powers. During the interview,
he also reflected on certain key cases decided and authored by him and the
administrative responsibilities he willingly assumed to improve the
effectiveness of the judiciary as a whole. Practitioners will benefit from his
views on what makes for effective written and oral advocacy at the high
court and his explanation of how the Justices work as a team to decide a
particular case.
Mathilda McGee-Tubb authored a Case Comment concerning Justice
Cordys jurisprudence in Commonwealth v. Pon, an important 2014 decision
which introduced a new standard for determining when to seal a subset of
criminal records. In the Comment, McGee-Tubb reviews the factual
background of the case which dealt with amendments to the Massachusetts
statute governing public access to criminal offender record information
(CORI) and analyzes the precedent which existed prior to the decision in
Pon. The Article concludes with an insightful analysis of how the decision
in Pon reflects certain core values of Justice Cordys jurisprudence:
responsibility, courage, and pragmatism.
Finally, this issue contains a piece by Justin Amos which discusses the
recent line of cases pertaining to the Sixth Amendment right to a public
trial and the practical reality that virtually every courtroom in
Massachusetts was closed during jury selection for decades because there
was inadequate seating for all of the members of the venire. The Article
discusses the Courts opinions in Commonwealth v. Abelord, Commonwealth v.
Morganti, and Commonwealth v. LaChance, all of which addressed the issue
of waiver and the public trial right and were authored by Justice Cordy.
Justice Cordys contributions to Massachusetts jurisprudence have
been meaningful and long-lasting. His contributions to the legal
community through the mentorship and support of his law clerks during
his fifteen years on the bench have been no less so, and this issue of On
Remand is intended to celebrate that.