The Massachusetts Governor’s Council is vetting Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants, Gov. Deval Patrick’s pick for chief justice.

These hearings always began with a parade of court officials offering the nominee high praise, and this one was no different. Witnesses described Gants as considerate, hard working, and willing to make an unpopular decision if it’s the right thing to do.

“He keeps an open mind and is not afraid to change his mind if the evidence backs a different result,” said retiring chief justice Roderick Ireland, who is stepping down in July as he approaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

The nominee, Gants, must also face questions from the Governor's Council about some of his controversial rulings. For example, in 2004, when Gants was on the superior court, he allowed a convicted drunk driver to keep his license so the man could drive to doctor’s appointments. And in February, the SJC ruled that police need a warrant before collecting cellphone records to track someone’s movements. Gants dissented.