- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Acknowledging his unprecedented opportunity to shape the state’s highest court for years to follow, Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday nominated judges Kimberly Budd, Frank Gaziano and David Lowy to fill upcoming vacancies on the Supreme Judicial Court.

If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, the nominees who all currently sit on the Superior Court would replace Associate Justices Fernande Duffly, Francis Spina and Robert Cordy, who are all retiring from the seven-member high court by the end of the summer.

Baker, introducing his choices at an afternoon news conference, said he believes he has nominated justices who have “the smarts, the skills, and the fortitude” to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court. He said they have all demonstrated “measured and fair temperament and outstanding legal knowledge and skills throughout their careers.”

Combined, Budd, Gaziano and Lowy have nearly a century of legal experience and have handled some of the state’s most complex criminal and civil cases, Baker said.

The three retirements, all announced within a matter of days earlier in the year, give the first-term governor a rare chance to put his stamp on the court. He formed a special judicial nominating panel to help vet candidates to fill the vacancies.

“We really appreciate that this is a unique opportunity and will be one of the key opportunities for us to establish a legacy here in Massachusetts,” he said.

Baker, a moderate Republican, declared earlier he had no “litmus test” for nominees and would seek jurists with the proper temperament, intellect and legal skills for the job.

Budd, the daughter of former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Wayne Budd, was named to the Superior Court in 2009 by then-Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, she had previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as an administrator and attorney for Harvard.

“If confirmed, the people of the commonwealth can be assured that I shall work very hard to carry out and fulfill my duties as an associate justice,” said Budd, 49.

Gaziano, 52, was appointed to the Superior Court by former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney in 2004. The Suffolk University Law School graduate is a Scituate resident and previously served as a state and federal prosecutor.

He said it’s “truly humbling to be nominated to a court whose mission is to preserve everybody’s individual liberties in this state.”

Lowy, 56, recently presided over the murder trial of Phillip Chism, a teenager convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the killing of his math teacher at Danvers High School.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts and Boston University Law School, he was first appointed to the state’s district court and elevated to the Superior Court by Republican then-Gov. Paul Cellucci in 2001.

“Empathy, humility and reverence for the law will guide me every day if I am confirmed,” he said.

All three jurists are under the age of 60. The mandatory retirement age for judges in Massachusetts is 70.

Baker said he will begin the process again after the first of the year to fill the seats of two additional SJC judges who will hit the mandatory retirement age next year.

The eight-member Governor’s Council, which must approve all judicial appointments, will hold hearings before voting on the nominations.

The Supreme Judicial Court, founded in 1692, is considered the oldest continuously sitting appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.

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Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show the nominations were Tuesday, not Wednesday.


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