How to Become a Judge, and Have a Laugh [OPINION]
Massachusetts is looking for judges and Governor's Councillor Joseph C. Ferreira wants to help "good lawyers" apply for the coveted judicial positions.
I spent two informative and entertaining hours at the UMass School of Law in Dartmouth last night. If you want to become a judge or a clerk magistrate, or are even thinking about it for the future, then you should attend one of Joe Ferreira's seminars. The evening was a candid and at times laugh out loud discussion of the process, with recently confirmed local judges and the attorneys who decide who ultimately gets to wear the black robes in our state.
Last night's event was the third one Ferreira has held in his district. His elected district is larger than any Congressional district in the state; he represents five state senate districts stretching from the Rhode Island border down to the Cape and Islands and north to the suburbs of Boston. He is responsible for the busy courts in Brockton, New Bedford, and Fall River to name a few.
He is the former chief of police in the town of Somerset and is a practicing attorney today. The Democrat was elected to the Governor's Council a few years ago and he has made good on his promise to open up the process of becoming a judge to the public. For decades, there has been a perception, real or otherwise, that becoming a judge was a closed-door process controlled by political bosses and open only to the connected.
The former police chief has developed a seminar that most would pay thousands of dollars to attend if it was offered in the private sector by a recruiting firm. Instead, he and his blue ribbon volunteers do it all for free, and they are having fun doing it.
The seminar featured:
Lon Povich, Chief Legal Counsel to the Governor (he is alone is worth seeing - think of a pleasant Larry David)
Sharon Shelfer Casey, Executive Director and Deputy Legal Counsel (her devotion to an honest process and for the people that can meet that standard was clear during the presentation)
Judge Mark C. Gildea, Associate Justice, Superior Court
Judge Douglas J. Darnbrough, First Justice, New Bedford District Court
Judge Sabine Coyne, Associate Justice, Brockton District Court
Judge Tracie L. Souza, Associate Justice, Juvenile Court
The judges were a wonderful addition to the panel because they have been through the process and gave honest testimony about their own experiences. Judge Coyne is a past participant in one of Joe Ferreira's seminars. Judge Souza pointed out to the audience how lucky they were to have this seminar because it wasn't available when she went through the process.
They all discussed the "fastest 20 minutes in your life," but you will have to go to the next seminar to learn about that crucial step along the path to the black robes.
The UMass Law School and Dean John Quinn deserve credit for hosting the event for the second time.
Getting this busy group together for a few hours is a tremendous organizational task and Governor's Councillor Joe Ferreira deserves credit for providing this service to his constituents.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.