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Lowy is Baker’s expected choice for SJC

Judge David Lowy listened to testimony during the trial of Philip Chism at Essex Superior Court in Salem on Dec. 7. Chism was convicted of the 2013 murder and rape of his teacher, Colleen Ritzer.
Judge David Lowy listened to testimony during the trial of Philip Chism at Essex Superior Court in Salem on Dec. 7. Chism was convicted of the 2013 murder and rape of his teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File/Globe Freelance

Governor Charlie Baker will nominate Essex Superior Court Judge David A. Lowy for one of the three seats soon to be vacated on the Supreme Judicial Court, according to sources with knowledge of the governor’s decision.

Those sources say Baker is expected to announce Lowy’s appointment and two others sometime early next week. Two more justices will reach the mandatory retirement age next year, giving the governor an unprecedented opportunity to quickly make a strong impact on the seven-member high court.

Lowy, a Peabody native who served with Baker in the Weld administration, has been on the bench since 1997, when Governor William F. Weld appointed him to the district court. He had served as Weld’s deputy chief legal counsel. His wife, Virginia Buckingham, was Weld’s chief of staff and ran his US Senate race against Democrat John Kerry in 1996.

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Governor Paul Cellucci elevated the 56-year-old jurist to the Superior Court in 2001. He recently presided over the murder trial of Philip Chism, the Danvers High School student who was found guilty of raping and killing his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer.

A 1983 University of Massachusetts graduate, Lowy got his law degree in 1987 from Boston University.

Lowy declined to comment Wednesday. The governor’s office had no immediate comment.

Lowy cut his legal teeth shortly after law school when, after clerking for federal court Judge Edward F. Harrington, he worked as an assistant district attorney in Essex County before joining the Weld administration in 1991.

He was put in charge of criminal issues and helped draft Weld’s first legislative crime package in 1993, which included a major legal reform that allowed judges to consider dangerousness when setting bail, a boost for advocates of domestic violence victims.

As a district court judge in Lynn in the mid-1990s, he presided over the then-newly created drug court. It was designed to give drug users a chance to reintegrate into the community.

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Before he was appointed to the district court, he left the governor’s office to join the staff of the Suffolk County district attorney’s gang unit, prosecuting notorious gang leaders including those who had murdered his colleague Paul McLaughlin.

Three of the seven justices — Robert J. Cordy, Francis X. Spina, and Fernande R.V. Duffly — announced earlier this year that they planned to leave the court by July 1. Two more, Margot Botsford and Geraldine S. Hines, will reach the mandatory retirement age next year.

Baker created a special panel to screen candidates, directing the panel to draw applicants “from a cross-section of our community.” He said they should represent geographically diverse regions of the Commonwealth and “the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of our citizens.”


Frank Phillips can be reached at phillips@globe.com.