Governor's Council Sixth District
The Massachusetts Governor's Council, also known as the Executive Council, is composed of eight individuals elected from districts, plus the Lieutenant Governor who serves ex officio. The eight councillors are elected from their districts every two years. The Council meets weekly to record advice and consent on warrants for the state treasury, pardons and commutations, and recording advice and consent to gubernatorial appointments such as judges, clerk-magistrates, public administrators, members of the Parole Board, Appellate Tax Board, Industrial Accident Board and Industrial Accident Reviewing Board, notaries, and justices of the peace. Base salary is $36,025.
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Terrence W. Kennedy
State your relevant background and qualifications, particularly as they relate to the judicial nominating process.
How would you respond to someone who says that the Governor's Council is outdated? Why is this body still essential in the Commonwealth?
What is important to you when evaluating candidates for the parole board?
What would you do to improve diversity on the courts?
Are changes needed in the way the Governor’s Council approves candidates?
I have been a practicing attorney in Massachusetts for 37 years and have appeared in almost every court in the state. My extensive experience representing criminal defendants and civil litigants at all levels of our court system makes me uniquely qualified to determine what it takes to be a good judge. I have also been serving on the Council for over 9 years and extensive experience in the vetting process itself.
The Governor's Council is still essential because it is the only public check on the Governor's otherwise unfettered power to appoint people to lifetime judicial appointments and other governmental positions. Judges have immense power to shape the law of our state through their decisions, and it is vital to have the public's voice involved in this process to vet nominees and to ensure that the judges appointed in Massachusetts will fight to protect our citizens' fundamental rights.
It is important that we have people on the parole board with a background in psychology along with others who have a thorough understanding of addiction and mental health issues. I pushed for the current forensic psychologist on the board to be appointed under Governor Patrick and reappointed under Governor Baker. Additionally, to the extent attorneys are on the board, I also believe it is important to ensure that there are members of the criminal defense bar appointed.
I have successfully advocated for the appointment of the first Asian-American woman, first openly LGBTQ+ member, and several black justices to the Supreme Judicial Court during my time on the Council. I also recently helped convince the administration to reopen the process for Justice Lenk's upcoming replacement because of a lack of diversity in the candidate pool. I always encourage members of underrepresented groups to apply to be judges and do my best to help them navigate the process.
The number one change that is needed is an increase in accessibility and transparency on the Council. During the pandemic, we have held remote hearings that were live-streamed on YouTube so that members of the public could watch the proceedings. As we return to in-person hearings, we should continue to live-stream as a manner of remaining fully accessible to the public. More public access to what we do only functions to improve the vetting process.
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