In a 5 to 3 decision, the Governor’s Council approved Christopher Barry-Smith for the Superior Court on Wednesday, after strong opposition from gun rights groups. 

Barry-Smith’s nomination angered pro-gun groups because of his position as first assistant in Attorney General Maura Healey’s office when she cracked down on “copycat” assault weapons in the commonwealth. The Gun Owners' Action League, the Massachusetts branch of the National Rifle Association, protested his nomination at a hearing last week. 

Councillor Jen Cassie voted against Barry-Smith’s nomination because she didn’t think he’d judge fairly. “This is somebody who threw up a red flag,” she said, “that he will be an activist judge.” 

Other members of the council were concerned that Barry-Smith lacked necessary skills for a judgeship, having never worked with the criminal courts. Councillor Robert Jubinville acknowledged Barry-Smith’s extensive administrative duties as first assistant but said he had “no experience for this position whatsoever.”

Councillor Marilyn Pettito Devaney, however, was confident in her vote for Barry-Smith. Devaney lauded his past work and said that appointing him as a judge was “the right thing.” 

“He’s experience, well qualified, he’s caring,” she said. “He has the temperament and demeanor we look for in a judge.”