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Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey to retire

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, and Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey chatted inside the Great Hall of John Adams Courthouse in Boston in 2015.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The chief justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court said Friday that she would retire in January after more than eight years in that office and two decades on the bench.

Paula M. Carey was appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to a five-year term in 2013, after serving about six years as chief justice of the Probate and Family Court, and then reappointed in 2018, according to a statement from the SJC.

Carey said she has “absolutely loved my work with the Massachusetts Trial Court.”

“I continue to have the same passions I have always had and will continue to work towards racial equity and access to justice for all,” she said in the statement. “Retirement for me is not an ending, but the beginning of a different life committed to the same principles, just in a different way that permits me to attend to the imminent needs of my loved ones.”

As chief justice, Carey has overseen the Boston Municipal, District, Housing, Juvenile, Land, Probate and Family, and Superior courts, the Office of Jury Commissioner, and the Office of the Commissioner of Probation — an operation that includes 385 judges and 6,300 staff across 97 courthouses and has a $779.9 million budget, according to the statement.


Carey created the court’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Experience in 2018 to help craft policy, offer trainings, and spread awareness, and she formed a Language Access Advisory Committee to create a comprehensive plan for access to the courts for speakers of all languages, the statement said.

She has been honored with the Boston Bar Association’s Haskell Cohn Distinguished Judicial Service Award, the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers Distinguished Jurist Award, the Freedman Award from the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the Middlesex Bar Association’s Distinguished Jurist Award, according to the statement.


Kimberly Budd, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, described Carey as “passionate about delivering justice to the people in the Commonwealth.”

“With unflagging energy, she has worked to improve access to justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who work in and use our courts,” Budd said in the statement. “She has shepherded the Trial Court through many advancements and steered the departments through the pandemic with perseverance and determination.”

Carey graduated magna cum laude from New England Law — Boston and cofounded a family law practice before she was appointed to the Probate and Family Court as a circuit judge in 2001. She later served as an associate justice in Norfolk County and then worked from 2007 to 2013 as chief justice of the Probate and Family Court, overseeing the implementation of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, according to the statement.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.