Chief Justice Roderick Ireland reflects on 45-year legal career
WBUR - 10/08/2014
This week, we spoke with Roderick Ireland, former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. It was the first in-depth interview he granted since his retirement this summer.
At first, Ireland strikes a rather imposing figure. Suit and tie. Wire-rimmed glasses. Salt and pepper hair. And a black three-ringed binder, filled with carefully typed and flagged notes. It’s complete with a table of contents prepping him for any possible question: sections ranging from “growing up in Springfield” to “judicial philosophy”.
You’d expect such meticulous preparation from a man whose career contains so many firsts. He was the first African-American appointed to the SJC in 1997. In 2010, he became the first African-American to lead the Commonwealth’s highest court since its founding in 1692.
Imposing as he is, intimidation is not Ireland’s style. He is intelligent, warm, even self-effacing about the role he’s played in pushing justice forward in Massachusetts.