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Northeastern Grad Nominated to be Chief Justice of Mass. SJC

Roderick Ireland, a distinguished judge, Northeastern graduate and member of the faculty since 1978, has been nominated to be chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced the nomination today. Once approved by the Governor’s Council, Ireland, Ph.D. ’98, would be Massachusetts’ first African-American chief justice. In this position, Judge Ireland will continue to work alongside Judge Margot Botsford, JD ’73, another distinguished graduate who serves on this high court.

Ireland, a native of Springfield, Mass., has been an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court for 13 years.

“Northeastern has a proud track-record of educating future leaders in public service,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “Justice Ireland’s career exemplifies an unwavering commitment to serving others. As a member of our faculty, he strengthens our commitment to experiential learning by bringing the judicial system to life for our students.”

Ireland began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, and then was a public defender from 1971 to 1973 with the Roxbury Defenders Committee, eventually becoming executive director. From 1975 to 1977 he served as assistant secretary in the state Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

At Northeastern, Ireland has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, primarily on juvenile justice, in the School of Criminology and Justice Policy, at the School of Law and in the Law, Policy and Society Program.

He earned his doctorate in law, policy and society in 1998.

“Students love him,” said Chester Britt, dean of the criminology school. “His class is the first one that fills up every semester. He’s really popular – he does a great job in the classroom, and he works them really hard.”

Britt said part of the appeal of Ireland’s class is that his students, “because of the nature of his position, get access to the juvenile court system. They get a much better, inside view of the proceedings, and that is a wonderful learning experience.”

Judge Ireland earned his JD from Columbia University Law School and a LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School. Over the course of his career, he has earned awards for judicial excellence from the Massachusetts Bar Association and Lawyers Weekly Newspaper, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the Massachusetts Judges Conference. He is also the author of Massachusetts Juvenile Law, 2d edition, 2006.

Ireland has served as a member of the University Corporation since 1999. His wife, Alice Alexander, J.D. ’79, served as assistant dean and director for cooperative education at the School of Law from 1985 to 2005.

UPDATE: December 8, 2010: The Governor’s Council today voted to confirm Roderick Ireland as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

– Courtesy of CSSH Dean’s Office

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