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Gants sworn in as SJC chief justice

Succeeds Ireland, who retired

In a ceremony in the John Adams Courthouse, Governor Deval Patrick congratulated Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants after swearing him in.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

In a ceremony in the John Adams Courthouse, Governor Deval Patrick congratulated Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants after swearing him in.

Judge Ralph Gants became the 37th chief justice of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Monday, beginning a tenure as the leader of the judicial branch that could last well into the next decade.

“By the end of this year, six of our seven trial court departments will have new chief justices. We are truly embarking on a new generation of leadership,” Gants said.

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A Lexington resident first appointed to the SJC by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009, Gants succeeds Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, who stepped down on July 25, a few months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Gants, 59, was first appointed a judge in 1997 by Governor William F. Weld. Gants is now not only the first Jewish chief justice, but also pointed out that he is the first chief to play in an “over-the-hill soccer league.”

Justice Margot Botsford served as master of ceremonies for the swearing-in ceremony. “As in Superior Court, Ralph made a swift transition from being newbie to becoming a pillar of the court,” Botsford said.

Friends, family, and colleagues of Gants packed the Adams Courthouse and lined the open balconies looking onto the building’s main hall.

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