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Justice Margot Botsford retires from Supreme Judicial Court

“Working in the Massachusetts Court system is a dream come true,” said Margot Botsford (left), who was a judge for 28 years.
“Working in the Massachusetts Court system is a dream come true,” said Margot Botsford (left), who was a judge for 28 years. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Justice Margot Botsford retired from the Supreme Judicial Court Wednesday, ending a decade of service on the state’s highest court.

Botsford turned 70 on Wednesday, the mandatory retirement age for judges under the state’s constitution, the SJC said in a statement. Botsford was nominated to the SJC by former Governor Deval Patrick in 2007; she previously was a Superior Court judge for 18 years.

Botsford was the most senior member of the SJC’s seven justices, having taken her seat about a year before current Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants joined the court. Gants lauded Botsford in a statement released Wednesday.

“I am slowly moving through the five stages of grief at her departure from this Court, and I know that everyone at the Court shares that grief,’’ he said. “I take solace in knowing that there will be yet another chapter in her life in the law and that she will continue to be a mentor, an educator, and a wise advocate.”

Botsford’s last day sitting with the court during a public hearing was Feb. 14.


“Having had the opportunity to serve as a judge for 28 years, I can say that working in the Massachusetts Court system is a dream come true,” Botsford said in a statement. “I am very proud of our judicial system and feel proud and very lucky to have had the opportunity to serve for so long.”

Botsford, who lives in Jamaica Plain, is a New York City native and a graduate of Barnard College. She is a 1973 graduate of Northeastern University Law School and the holder of a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Botsford has maintained close ties to Northeastern, having taught at the law school and holding several roles in the overall management of the school including as a member of the board of trustees. She is currently a trustee emeritus, according to the school and the SJC.


Botsford was also instrumental in launching the African-American and Latino Scholars Program at Brookline High School. Botsford helped organize and then launched the program during its second year when it did not have a director, the court said.

Botsford’s belief in the importance of playing an active role in education and in mentoring others were applauded by US District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris, who formerly worked in the state courts alongside Botsford.

“If you had a tough murder trial or complex business litigation, she was the judge of choice,” Saris said in a statement. “She was a role model for so many women because of her sheer intelligence and hard work without an ounce of arrogance. Throughout her career, Justice Botsford was a leader among leaders in fighting for women, the poor, education and justice.”

Botsford will be replaced by Elspeth B. Cypher, who was nominated by Governor Charlie Baker and approved by the Governor’s Council. Cypher is currently a member of the Massachusetts Appeal Court, the state’s second highest court.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.