Gov. Baker Nominates Serge Georges Jr. to Supreme Judicial Court

"I will show my honor and my respect for this positon by working as hard as I can to do the best that I can by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," the judge said

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Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday nominated Serge Georges Jr. as a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court at a news conference where he also touched on the coronavirus pandemic.

Georges currently serves as an associate justice on the Boston Municipal Court sitting in the Dorchester Division, a position he was nominated to by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2013. From 2014 to 2018, Georges presided over the Dorchester Drug Court. Before becoming a judge, he focused on commercial and business litigation, criminal defense and professional licensure and liability during a solo practice.

At a news conference in the state house, Baker lauded Georges as a beloved and highly respected member of the Boston Municipal Court, whose experience will bring an important new perspective to the Supreme Judicial Court.

The governor said lawyers have told him that Georges is "their favorite judge …because he knows the law, does his homework and treats everyone in his courtroom with dignity and respect."

Georges said he was honored by the nomination: "I will show my honor and my respect for this positon by working as hard as I can to do the best that I can by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Already, Baker has nominated Justice Kimberly Budd to step into the chief justice role and has tapped Appeals Court Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt to be elevated to the SJC bench. The latest flurry of nominations -- Baker made three SJC nominations in a similarly compressed time frame in 2016 -- came as Justice Barbara Lenk approaches the mandatory retirement age early next month and after the September death of Chief Justice Ralph Gants.

Gants and Lenk were the only two justices on the SJC not nominated to those positions by Baker, and now the second-term Republican is poised to have seven of his own selections sitting on the SJC.

The Governor's Council, which vets and confirms Baker's nominees, will hold a hearing on Wendlant's confirmation Wednesday morning and is also expected to vote on Budd's promotion to chief. The council could schedule a confirmation hearing for Georges when it meets Wednesday.

"The process is still going on but I think, as a group, the number of life experiences and personal experiences and professional experiences and legal background and product of work and quality of character and all the rest, that this group of people that we've been fortunate enough to get to know and nominate to bring to the bench would be really special," Baker said.

For the first time, a Black woman has been nominated to become the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Baker also took some questions on the coronavirus, which continued its steady increase in Massachusetts on Monday with 12 new confirmed coronavirus deaths and nearly 1,970 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 10,110 and its confirmed caseload to nearly 184,500. The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were more than 780 people reported hospitalized Monday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and nearly 160 in intensive care units. The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 6,600.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the reopening of a field hospital as coronavirus cases increase in Massachusetts.

Governors across the country have begun implementing new restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to spike.

Massachusetts implemented a new mask advisory and a restaurant curfew earlier this month, but a spokesperson for Baker said earlier this week that the state has no plans for any additional changes at this point.

Baker didn't discuss that Tuesday but did talk about testing in the state and vaccines.

Asked what the state is doing about long lines and the often high cost of testing for people without symptoms, he said his administration is "making progress on creating additional testing capacity that gets beyond the traditional way it's been done to date," including that he expects to receive a few million 15-minute tests developed by Abbott when they are ready for distribution.

Touching on the recent news that two potential COVID vaccines developed by companies either based in Massachusetts or with a large footprint here appear to be very effective, Baker said he doesn't think that means the state will get priority when it's rolled out.

But he called it "a big statement about just how much intellectual horsepower in the life science space there is in Massachusetts."

State House News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NBC/State House News Service/Associated Press
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