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Four nominated to Appeals Court

Assistant Attorney General Sookyoung Shin (upper left), Superior Court Justice James Lemire (upper right), state solicitor Peter Sacks (bottom left), and Superior Court Justice Kenneth Desmond.

Governor Charlie Baker nominated two Superior Court justices and two people from the attorney general’s office to the Massachusetts Appeals Court Wednesday.

The nominees are Superior Court Justice Kenneth Desmond, Superior Court Justice James Lemire, state solicitor Peter Sacks, and Assistant Attorney General Sookyoung Shin.

Martin Healy, chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bar Association, said he felt overwhelmingly positive about Baker’s picks.

“What struck me at first was that all of the nominees have toiled in the trenches of law practice,” he said.

Healy said Desmond and Lemire, who have served on the Superior Court for four and 10 years, respectively, were familiar names among the Massachusetts law community. Desmond, a Boston College Law School graduate, previously worked in the Dorchester Drug Court and is a vice president of the Massachusetts Black Judges Conference. Lemire, a New England Law graduate, began his 40-year law career in the Worcester County district attorney’s office.

Sacks, the state’s first state solicitor, and Shin, meanwhile, will offer an unusual perspective to the Appeals Court with their experience in the attorney general’s office, Healy said.


“There is sort of a lack of administrative law experience right now on the Appeals Court, and both attorney Sacks and attorney Shin will close that gap,” Healy said.

Shin, who attended Harvard Law School, clerked for the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and began working for the attorney general in Boston in 2005.

Sacks, who also graduated from Harvard Law School, first clerked for the US District Court for the District of Maine, later working as an assistant attorney general.

“Peter Sacks and Sookyoung Shin are extremely talented appellate lawyers who have served the people of this state with distinction for many years through their work in the attorney general’s office,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in said a statement. “ I am delighted that they have been nominated to this important role, where they can bring their wealth of experience to the appeals court.”


The Massachusetts Appeals Court consists of 25 members, including one chief and 24 associate justices. The Governor’s Council, which advises the governor, must vet the nominees through a hearing process before their appointments are made official.

On Wednesday the Governor’s Council unanimously confirmed Judge David Lowy to the Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court.

Martin Healy said he thinks the fact that the Governor’s Council has already unanimously approved two of Baker’s Supreme Judicial Court nominees bodes well for this round of Appeals Court nominees.

Desmond, Lemire, and Sacks could not be reached for comment, while Shin declined to comment.

To be considered for the Appeals Court, those interested submitted applications for review by the Judicial Nominating Commission, which then passed on recommendations to Baker.

Healy said he thinks Baker’s nominees reflect the diversity of Massachusetts.

“Governor Baker is clearly putting his indelible stamp on the judicial branch, and he is making sure his gubernatorial legacy will last much longer than his tenure as governor,” Healy said.

Meg Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meg_bernhard.