SJC Nomination Breaks Another Racial Barrier

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Dec. 22, 2010

Fernande "Nan" Duffly.

BOSTON — Another racial barrier on Massachusetts' highest court has been broken down.

Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday nominated appeals court judge Nan Duffly to be the next associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

Duffly would be the first Asian-American to serve on the state’s high court.  She would replace Roderick Ireland, who was sworn in Monday as the court’s first African-American chief justice.
 
Announcing Duffly's nomination at a State House press conference, Gov. Deval Patrick had high praise for his Supreme Court pick. "Judge Duffly brings 18 years of extraordinary judicial experience with her to the SJC," Patrick said. "She is widely respected for her excellent judgment, keen insight, warm and collegial personality and a sharp, sharp intelligence.”
 
Duffly was born in Indonesia.  She immigrated to United States at the age of six, and later graduated from Harvard Law School.  At the press conference, Duffly said becoming a judge was a way for her to repay a debt to this country.
 
“My mother is Chinese and my father was a Dutchman and when we immigrated ot this country at 6.5 years old, I could speak no English," Duffly said. "Many many kind people provided us with food, clothes and opportunity.”
 
The 61-year-old Duffly has been a member of the Massachusetts appeals court since 2000, and before that, served for eight years on the family and probate court.
 
Her nomination now goes to the nine-member Governor’s Council for confirmation.

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