PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Jennifer Donahue/Erika Gully-Santiago
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2020
Supreme Judicial Court to Hold Special Sitting for Presentation of Memorial to the Honorable Ruth I. Abrams
On Thursday, November 12, 2020, the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court will hold a virtual special sitting for the presentation of a memorial to the late Honorable Ruth I. Abrams.
Memorials are special sittings of the Court that are held to honor Justices of the Court after their passing. The Hon. Ruth I. Abrams, the first woman to be appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, died on September 12, 2019.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will present the memorial and make a motion that the minutes of the memorial be placed in the record of the Court. Edward Notis-McConarty, Esq., will speak on behalf of the Bar, and Mary K. Ryan, Esq., will speak on behalf of her former law clerks. Retired Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Herbert P. Wilkins will respond on behalf of the Court and grant the motion.
The Reporter of Decisions will gather the remarks of the people who speak at the memorial for inclusion in the Massachusetts Reports. The Reporter has been publishing memorials for more than 200 years, beginning with the first memorial sitting held a decade after the creation of the Office of the Reporter of Decisions. The first memorial was of Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Theophilis Parsons, on November 23, 1813.
Biography of Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ruth I. Abrams
The Hon. Ruth I. Abrams was a 1953 graduate of Radcliffe College, and a 1956 graduate of Harvard Law School. After graduating from law school, she practiced from 1957 to 1960 alongside her father and brother at Abrams, Abrams & Abrams.
In 1961, she became the only woman to serve as an Assistant District Attorney in the Commonwealth, serving in the Middlesex District Attorney's office until 1969 when she became Chief of the Appellate Section of the Attorney General's office. In 1971, she became Special Counsel to the Supreme Judicial Court. In 1972, Governor Francis Sargent appointed her to serve on the Massachusetts Superior Court. Justice Abrams was the second woman to serve on that court. In 1977, Governor Michael Dukakis appointed Justice Abrams to the Supreme Judicial Court, the first woman since its founding in 1692. She served on the court for 23 years, during which time she wrote 501 opinions and served on 10 special legal and bar committees. Justice Abrams wrote landmark decisions covering family law, gender equality, criminal law and minority rights. She was known for encouraging and mentoring women in the field of law and for her efforts to have more women appointed to judicial positions. She retired from the Supreme Judicial Court on December 25, 2000.
Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
The program will be presented live online at https://boston.suffolk.edu/sjc/.