BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today announced the nomination of Massachusetts Appeals Court Senior Associate Justice Elspeth “Ellie” B. Cypher to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). The nomination is Governor Baker’s fourth to the Commonwealth’s highest court. If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Justice Cypher will replace retiring Justice Margo Botsford.
“Justice Cypher will bring nearly three decades of broad civil and criminal, trial and appellate experience, including the last sixteen years on the Appeals Court, to the Supreme Judicial Court,” said Governor Baker. “We thank Justice Botsford for her service, wish her well in her retirement and also appreciate the work of the Supreme Judicial Court Nominating Commission, my Chief Legal Counsel Lon Povich and Judicial Nominating Commission Executive Director Sharon Casey, in recommending diverse and experienced candidates. I am confident that, if confirmed, Justice Cypher’s temperament and understanding of the law will continue to advance the strong tradition of the Commonwealth’s highest court.”
Justice Cypher was joined by family, friends and colleagues for the formal announcement today at the State House with the Governor and Lt. Governor.
“The Supreme Judicial Court and the citizens of the Commonwealth will be well served with the addition of Justice Cypher’s sense of justice and civil and knowledge of the law,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We are, on behalf of the Commonwealth, grateful for the service of Justice Botsford, and look forward to the Governor’s Council’s consideration of Justice Cypher who has demonstrated her ability to work closely with her colleagues and consider matters fairly and impartially in service to the court and all those who appear before it.”
“Justice Cypher is one of the Appeals Court’s finest judges, said Chief Justice Scott Kafker. “She is fair, experienced and wise and would be an admirable addition to the Supreme Judicial Court.”
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is the Commonwealth’s highest appellate court, consisting of the Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. The seven Justices hear appeals on a broad range of criminal and civil cases from September through May and issue written opinions that are posted online.
For more information about the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, visit http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/.
In February of 2016, Governor Baker named a statewide 12-member Supreme Judicial Nominating Commission (SJC-NC) to recruit, screen and recommend applicants to fill an unprecedented number of upcoming vacancies on the Commonwealth’s highest court.
Associate Justices Kimberly Budd, Frank Gaziano and David Lowy joined the SJC last summer following their nomination by Governor Baker and unanimous approvals by the Governor’s Council. The process was re-opened last October with the expected retirements of Justice Botsford and Justice Geraldine Hines later this year. All judicial nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the Governor’s Council.
About Justice Elspeth “Ellie” B. Cypher:
The Honorable Elspeth “Ellie” B. Cypher was appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2000 by Governor Paul Cellucci and now serves as the Senior Associate Justice. In addition to fulfilling the courts role of hearing and deciding criminal and civil appellate cases, Justice Cypher’s role includes chairing the personnel committee and assisting the Chief Justice, Scott L. Kafker, with management of cases and court staff, and fulfilling the duties of the Chief Justice in the event of illness or absence.
Prior to her appointment to the Appeals Court, Justice Cypher served for twelve years with the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney (1988-1993), and later, Chief of Appeals (1993-2000). There she supervised attorneys and support staff in the District Attorney’s Office and wrote and edited appellate briefs and argued cases before the Appeals and Supreme Judicial Courts. From 1994-2006, Justice Cypher also served as a Senior Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Massachusetts School of Law, formerly the Southern New England School of Law. Before joining public service and upon obtaining her law degree, Justice Cypher represented clients in employment law, personal injury, consumer protection and criminal matters for Grayer, Brown and Dilday, a small general practice law firm in Boston.
Justice Cypher earned her Bachelor of Arts from Emerson College in 1980 and obtained her juris doctorate degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1986 where she was also a Literary Editor of the Law Review. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Justice Cypher and her wife, Sharon Levesque, reside in Assonet and have one son.