Judges needn’t reveal thoughts behind rulings, SJC declares

The state’s highest court barred ethics investigators Thursday from asking embattled Boston ­Municipal Court Judge Raymond Dougan how he reached individual decisions during his 21 years on the bench, ruling that judges cannot be forced to explain their inner thinking to anyone.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court created an absolute “judicial deliberative privilege” for the first time in Massachusetts. It will allow judges to keep their notes secret and to refuse to answer questions about how they ­arrived at their decisions.

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