Ralph D. Gants (1954 – September 14, 2020) was the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He was sworn in on July 28, 2014. Gants, a New York native, is a former Assistant United States Attorney and served as a Massachusetts judge since 1997.
1 Early life and career
2 Judicial career
Early life and career
Gants was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1954. He received his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1976, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. The following year he completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England. In 1980, he earned a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where he was notes editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson. From 1981 to 1983, he was Special Assistant to Judge William H. Webster, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1983, he was appointed Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, serving as Chief of Public Corruption Division from 1988 to 1991. In 1991, he joined the Boston law firm of Palmer & Dodge LLP, becoming a partner in 1994. He has taught at Harvard Law School, New England School of Law, and Northeastern University School of Law.
He was appointed as a Judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1997 by Governor William Weld. In 2008, he served as Administrative Justice of the Superior Court's Business Litigation Session. Governor Deval Patrick appointed Justice Gants to the Supreme Judicial Court in December 2008 and he took office in January 2009 after being confirmed by the Governor's Council. On April 17, 2014, he was nominated by Governor Patrick to replace Roderick L. Ireland as Chief Justice after his retirement; he was confirmed by the Governor's Council and was sworn in on July 28, 2014.
Justice Gants was married with two children.
Gants suffered a heart attack on September 4, 2020 and for a time his staff was confident he would be returning to the bench. He died on September 14th.