Despite a high level of public commentary on how unusual it was for Judge Gabrielle Wolohojian to score a nomination to the state's highest court from her ex-domestic partner, little controversy emerged at a pre-confirmation hearing Wednesday -- and a majority of Governor's Council members signaled Wolohojian had their support.

Around a hundred boosters including lawyers, judges, and court staff packed into the State House's largest hearing room at the start of a nearly four-hour session to support the Appeals Court judge's bid to move up to the Supreme Judicial Court.

The Cambridge resident has "distinguished herself as a fair-minded jurist," Gov. Maura Healey said as she introduced her second Supreme Judicial Court nominee.

"Time and again, Judge Wolohojian has proven herself to be a person of wisdom and integrity, deeply committed to both the rule of law and the strengthening of our community," Healey told members of the Governor's Council, which could vote on confirmation as soon as next week.

The governor made little reference to her past relationship with Wolohojian, her domestic partner of several years with whom she shared a home in Charlestown, and Wolohojian did not address the personal connection in her introductory remarks as the hearing got underway.

Healey said she knew "from experience" that Wolohojian "is a remarkable jurist, uniquely talented, thoroughly prepared, generously willing to serve, and deeply committed to our judicial institutions."

"And I know that personally. As I have said in the past, a personal relationship -- and my personal relationship -- with Judge Wolohojian should not deprive the people of Massachusetts of an outstanding SJC justice," the governor said.

Departing from usual custom at SJC nominee hearings, the governor did not appear alongside her choice for the post. Wolohojian sat in the audience with family members while Healey addressed councilors, then took a seat at a witness table after Healey exited.

Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, who co-chaired the hearing, referred to Wolohojian's 16 years on the Appeals Court and called her "one of our state's most experienced appellate judges."

Wolohojian said she paused Wednesday morning and was "struck" by the support of her colleagues.

"And I realized that their trust and support -- that if I were elevated, they would be happy to have me review their work -- struck me as the greatest trust and endorsement that I could receive. I will be forever grateful for that," Wolohojian told members of the Governor's Council.

She joined Hale and Dorr, now WilmerHale, as an associate in 1991, stepping away for a year to serve as associate independent counsel on the Whitewater Investigation from 1994 to 1995. After returning to the firm, Wolohojian made partner in 1997 and remained there until joining the Appeals Court in 2008.

A Columbia Law alumna, she also holds a doctor's in English language and literature from Oxford and a bachelor's in English from Rutgers. She clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel and First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bailey Aldrich after completing law school.

"A good judge listens. A good judge is fair. A good judge is prepared. And I learned that when you walk away from a good judge's courtroom, your confidence in the justice system is renewed, even if you lost your cause on that particular day," Wolohojian told councilors. She added that she aims to write her decisions in "clear, succinct" language "that laypeople can understand."

Members of the public who testified Wednesday didn't bring up her long-term relationship with Healey, and the only opposition voiced in the auditorium came from a group that often testifies before the council based on past rulings in mortgage foreclosure-related cases, and from another person who aired unrelated conspiracy theories purportedly involving municipal, state, and federal officials.

The state Republican Party had hammered the governor's pick of her former partner leading up to Wednesday's hearing, but did not address councilors, commenting instead in a Wednesday afternoon press release.

"Regardless of whether the judge opts to recuse herself from issues involving the Governor or the Executive Branch, the impropriety of this nomination remains unchanged. It's difficult to conceive that the personal relationship didn't impact the nomination process. In submitting a nomination to the highest court, a Governor must avoid even the semblance of a conflict of interest, and this nomination fails to pass that critical test," Chair Amy Carnevale said in a statement.

Without mentioning Healey, Councilor Marilyn Pettito Devaney asked Wolohojian about whether certain cases could prompt her to recuse herself.

"Well there certainly could be. Recusal is something that I take very seriously. It's a two-sided question. There are cases in which you need to recuse yourself and you do so. And then there are cases where you don't need to recuse yourself, and you don't do so," Wolohojian said.

Without going into specifics, she added that there is a "danger in over-recusal as well as a danger in under-recusal," and said she had "absolutely no interest, and never have, in sitting on cases I shouldn't sit on."

Most councilors steered clear of what Councilor Tara Jacobs called the "elephant in the room" -- the past relationship with the governor -- or made only oblique references.

"I know it's been controversial in some circles," Councilor Eileen Duff said of the nomination, without elaborating. "But 'A' players hire 'A' players."

Jacobs said it was about optics, whether it be an "appearance of impropriety, appearance of conflict of interest, appearance of favoritism."

"And it's troubled me, and it's been reflected from others," the first-term North Adams Democrat said. "I have truly struggled with it," she added.

Jacobs sought to ask questions of Healey before the governor departed the auditorium. Members usually have an opportunity to ask followup questions after someone addresses the council.

"Not of the governor, no," Driscoll told Jacobs from the chair. "But we do have witnesses that are coming."

During a recess, Jacobs told reporters she had "read the law around nepotism" and spoken with law professors in the lead up to the hearing. And she met with the candidate, who talked with her privately for nearly five hours and answered "uncomfortable questions."

"And I'm impressed by her. I'm impressed by her answers. And like I said, if it were purely based on who she is and her qualifications, they're impeccable," the councilor said.

Wolohojian told Jacobs during Wednesday's interview that her experience during Healey's nominating process was much the same as she experienced applying for judgeships under former Govs. Mitt Romney, Deval Patrick, and Charlie Baker. (Her applications to Romney and Baker, for the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court respectively, were unsuccessful.)

She filled out an application and supplied references in each instance, then was interviewed by a screening committee, and then after that panel's recommendation was interviewed by legal counsel, the governor, and sometimes by the lieutenant governor, she said.

"And this time, essentially, that entire process has happened again. So I understand your concern about the optics, but sitting from my chair, I have done everything like every other candidate," Wolohojian said.

At various points in the hearing, Devaney said the nominee "earned my vote again," Councilor Christopher Iannella Jr. said he was "more than happy to support" her in the upcoming confirmation vote, Councilor Terrence Kennedy said he would be "voting for you next week," and Councilor Joseph Ferreira said he was "confident you're going to do a great job."

Wolohojian chairs the Appeals Court Judicial Mentoring and Training Committee, the Appeals Court Rules and Procedures Committee, the SJC Standing Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules, and the SJC Committee on Artificial Intelligence.

The A.I. committee, which intrigued councilors, is charged with making a recommendation to the SJC on how to treat artificial intelligence moving forward. She organized a conference to hear from tech experts and the group has looked at legal ethics, legal education, and use of A.I. by the judiciary.

The committee will end up recommending "some acknowledgement ... if not rule change ... to make sure they don't start using this technology without understanding its pitfalls," she said. Benefits could include summarizing hundreds of pages of appendices or transcripts to save a judge time, for example, while downsides include possible security issues with the information fed into the system, and the high cost of reliable software.

While she declined to opine on several legal topics, Wolohojian told Councilor Paul DePalo she thought "the majority got it right" in the SJC's recent Mattis decision, which found life-without-parole sentences unconstitutional for defendants aged 18 to 20.

Under questioning from Ferreira, she added of Mattis: "Although I completely respect the Legislature's role in setting statutory sentences, those statutes have always been subject -- on the federal level and the state level -- to constitutional review by the courts."

Ferreira, a former police chief, sought to draw out opinions from Wolohojian on court decisions "that you see are a hindrance to police being able to do their jobs."

"I believe there's a thin blue line that we talk about between anarchy and having an orderly society," the Swansea Democrat said.

The nominee replied: "There's good, and there are bad, examples of everything. And it is important to remember that ... when evaluating police conduct. The vast majority of police conduct is honorable and critical in our society. And as you mentioned, it is essential to maintaining an ordered community. So I try to look at the cases -- and this is I think particularly in the area of searches and seizures -- the touchstone for that is reasonableness."

Two of Wolohojian's grandparents came to the United States as survivors of the genocide of the Armenian people perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. They found "hope" in Massachusetts, the judge said, and she today "tries to pay back that debt."

Anthony Barsamian, co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America, said families in that community "from Worcester and Watertown and throughout the commonwealth" were proud Wednesday.

"Today is an important day for Armenian Americans, not just because Justice Wolohojian is an amazing jurist, but because her character, her presence, and everything I've heard today, makes us proud," Barsamian said. He added, "Genocide survivors ... stand today and applaud you. And not left out are the next generation of young Armenian American women and other women who will see a justice who deserves this honor."

Kennedy said he heard from Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, a prominent Armenian American politician, who was "very pleased" by the nomination. And, Kennedy added, the late House Speaker George Keverian, a longtime friend, "would have been very proud today."

Devaney became emotional as she addressed Barsamian and began to reflect on the oppression and murder of the Armenian people.

"The deniers, really, it's outrageous. We'll never forget what Hitler said in 1939. 'Who remembers the Armenians?' I remember," Devaney said as her voice choked up.

Patrick McCabe of the Fatherhood Coalition, a frequent presence at Governor's Council hearings, often speaks against judicial candidates if he feels the nominee would not support equal, or "50-50," shared parenting in custody decisions.

He joined the former colleagues who got up to speak for Wolohojian and offered his support. Looking at recent applicable cases, McCabe said he believes "we're going in the direction of treating parents fairly, equally."

Far from a contentious interview, Wednesday's council hearing featured moments of levity.

Earlier in the hearing, Wolohojian had referenced her performances as a violinist with the Boston Civic Symphony and plugged an upcoming concert on March 3 at Jordan Hall.

McCabe, who sings with the Dedham Choral Society, built upon that theme and used his turn at the microphone to plug an April 12 concert at Holy Name Church in West Roxbury.

With dozens of Wolohojian fans in the audience, Healey during her opening remarks pointed to "overwhelming support" from "the legal community and beyond" including votes of confidence from the Nominating Commission and the Joint Bar Committee in support of Wolohojian's judgeship.

"It's rare for so many lawyers and judges to agree," the governor said, prompting laughter in the auditorium. "And yet, in this instance, it's not surprising."