The third Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice in three weeks has announced she's stepping down. This gives Governor Charlie Baker a historic opportunity to remake the state's highest court.
Justice Fernande Duffly says it's time to step down, a week earlier Justices Francis Spina and Robert Cordy announced their departures. And next year, Justices Margot Botsford and Geraldine Hines reach the mandatory retirement age of 70, for a total of five vacancies on the court.
WGBH Legal Analyst and Northeastern Law Professor Daniel Medwed says Governor Baker will have unusual influence over the SJC's future direction.
Medwed says, "It's always a risk when there is a mass change in the court...because it's an opportunity for one person, Governor Baker, to completely re-fashion the court. I do anticipate him being very cautious and presenting a rather diverse slate of candidates."
However, Medwed adds, he doesn't anticipate Baker appointing justices who will roll back major issues that Massachusetts residents care about.
Justice Duffly is 66, four years away from the state's mandatory retirement age for judges.
Justice Duffly announced Wednesday that she's moving up her retirement age to devote more time to her husband who is recovering from surgery.
Duffly is the Supreme Judicial Court's first Asian-American member. She was appointed to the SJC by former Governor Deval Patrick in 2011 after serving on the state appeals court and earlier as a probate and family court judge.