Metro

Federal judge set to reduce court role

US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock announced he will take senior status, which allows him to continue working but with a reduced caseload.

US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock announced he will take senior status, which allows him to continue working but with a reduced caseload.

Veteran US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock announced Tuesday that he will go into semiretirement beginning June 1, creating a new vacancy on a federal bench in Massachusetts that has undergone a sweeping makeover in the last several years.

Woodlock had been appointed by President Reagan in 1986. He announced he will take senior status, which allows him to continue working but with a reduced caseload. The move also creates a vacancy on the district’s 13-person bench.

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“Over the last 29 years, Judge Woodlock has been a preeminent judge, respected by the bench and bar for his outstanding judicial abilities,” Chief US District Judge Patti B. Saris said in a statement.

Woodlock has overseen an array of high-profile civil and criminal cases, most recently the trials last summer of two friends of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They were convicted of obstructing the investigation for lying to authorities, and one of them destroyed evidence. A third defendant who was charged pleaded guilty.

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In semiretirement, the judge will continue an assignment for the United States judicial system, involving the US Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation. That assignment has him handling more than 2,500 cases involving product liability, wrongful death, and serious injury from 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

Woodlock is also well known for his major role in the award-winning design of the John Joseph Moakley federal courthouse, which was built on the South Boston waterfront in 1999.

The judge, 67, is a graduate of Yale University and the Georgetown University Law Center. He worked in private practice with the Boston law firm of Goodwin, Procter & Hoar and was also an assistant US attorney in Massachusetts, prosecuting political corruption, organized crime, and narcotics cases.

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His retirement will create another vacancy on a bench that has seen a significant overhaul in recent years. Since 2010, some of the court’s most senior judges have been replaced by five new appointees: Denise J. Casper and Timothy S. Hillman were appointed in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Over the last year, Judges Indira Talwani, Mark G. Mastroianni, and Leo T. Sorokin have also been sworn in.

Six of the state’s 13 federal judgeships have been filled within the last five years.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at Mvalencia@globe.com.
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