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State of Massachusetts

Methods of Judicial Selection: Massachusetts

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Judicial Court: 7
Appeals Court: 25
Superior Court: 82
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Judicial Court: --
Appeals Court: --
Superior Court: --
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Judicial Court: statewide
Appeals Court: statewide
Superior Court: statewide
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Judicial Court: gubernatorial appointment with approval of governor's council*
Appeals Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with approval of governor's council*
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with approval of governor's council*
Length of Term
Supreme Judicial Court: to age 70
Appeals Court: to age 70
Superior Court: to age 70
Method of Retention
Supreme Judicial Court: N/A
Appeals Court: N/A
Superior Court: N/A
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Judicial Court: N/A
Appeals Court: N/A
Superior Court: N/A
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Judicial Court: gubernatorial appointment with governor's council approval*
Appeals Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with governor's council approval*
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with governor's council approval*
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Judicial Court: N/A
Appeals Court: N/A
Superior Court: N/A
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Judicial Court: gubernatorial appointment with governor's council approval*
Appeals Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with governor's council approval*
Superior Court: selected by chief justice for administration and management
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Judicial Court: to age 70
Appeals Court: to age 70
Superior Court: 5 years
Qualifications
Supreme Judicial Court: mandatory retirement age of 70
Appeals Court: U.S. citizen; state resident; state bar member in good standing; 13 yrs legal experience and training**; mandatory retirement age of 70
Superior Court: U.S. citizen; state resident; state bar member in good standing; 10 yrs legal experience and training**; mandatory retirement age of 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Part II, Chapters II and III of the Massachusetts Constitution and Executive Order 500.

*The nominating commission screens applicants for the supreme judicial court at the governor's discretion. The governor's council, also referred to as the executive council, is a constitutionally authorized body that advises the governor on Massachusetts affairs. The eight-member council is elected annually by the voters of the Commonwealth.

**These qualifications are prescribed in Executive Order 500.