Describing Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall as "a judge who broke out of the ivory tower to put a human face on the court," Boston Bar Association (BBA) President Don Frederico presented Chief Justice Marshall with the BBA President's Award on September 29 at the BBA's Annual Meeting Luncheon.
"Although many of us remember Margaret Marshall as an esteemed and beloved past president of the Boston Bar Association, historians will remember her as the first woman to serve as chief justice of Massachusetts' court of last resort, and one of this nation's great appellate judges," said President Frederico in presenting the award. "During her 14 years on the SJC, she has earned our highest respect for her jurisprudence."
Citing Chief Justice Marshall's numerous accomplishments, President Frederico highlighted just a sampling:
Reflecting absolute fidelity to the rule of law, her opinions are written with such clarity that you do not have to be a lawyer to understand what she is saying.
She has produced landmark opinions reflecting a willingness to take on the most challenging issues involving family law, criminal matters, civil rights, and commercial and financial conflicts.
Her opinions have always provided a road map for what needs to happen next - whether it be how individuals or the legal system were to conduct themselves, or what actions state agencies were required to take.
In breaking out of the ivory tower to put a human face on the court, she introduced web-casting, made herself accessible to the media, and made herself available to meet with business, civic and bar groups - all because she wanted people to understand the centrality of the rule of law in Massachusetts.
Justice Marshall's appointment of the Monan Commission demonstrated her unwavering commitment to having the management of the entire court put under a magnifying glass.
Leading by example and fostering a spirit of cooperation, she achieved a sea change in the management of the courts - moving an entire branch of government into the 21st century.
Her stewardship of the judicial branch during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was nothing short of remarkable. She made tremendous strides in expanding access to justice for unrepresented litigants.
"There has been an overarching theme to Chief Justice Marshall's tenure, and that can best be expressed in the mantra, 'How Can the Courts Do Better?'" said President Frederico. "She has accomplished more in the last 14 years than most of us accomplish in a lifetime."