Editorial: Thanks, Gov. Baker, for inspired SJC pick

In the early weeks of the pandemic, an “OFD” reader from Pennsylvania — clearly a Republican, but a “Never Trumper”— rang the Reporter to renew his subscription. He enjoyed getting the news from his hometown and wanted to be supportive of our work, he said. But he also offered an admonition to your faithful servant. Allow me to paraphrase: “You’re too liberal and too hard on Charlie Baker. He never gets a kind word from the Reporter.”

Setting aside whether or not that’s a full and fair assessment of our coverage, let the record show that on this day— during the week of Thanksgiving 2020— this space offers nothing but full-throated praise for our Commonwealth’s chief executive.

Gov. Baker, in picking the Honorable Serge Georges as an associate justice of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, has hit a home run. And in the Dorchester context, his choice of nominee is more like a grand slam. The son of immigrants from Haiti, the 50-year-old Georges spent the bulk of his childhood in our neighborhood. He attended St. Kevin’s Grammar School and went on to another esteemed Dorchester institution, Boston College High School, where he honed his talents with Jesuit instructors who urged him to be a “man for others.” He now serves as the vice-chair of BC High’s board of trustees. Georges went on to Boston College and then to Suffolk Law School.

Most recently, Georges, who was appointed to the bench in 2013 by Gov. Deval Patrick, has been assigned to the Dorchester division of Boston Municipal Court, where has presided over thousands of cases, the majority of them originating in our neighborhood.

Last year, the Reporter observed Judge Georges’s courtroom for a day and found his style professional, respectful, and engaged. He was eager to find ways to divert the men and women—mostly young adults— away from jail cells and onerous penalties. He showed empathy and kindness to all.

Last week, when asked by reporters about how his Jesuit education influences his jurisprudence, Georges answered: “The Jesuit tradition of being men and women for others –as it pertains to how I preside – is that there are always going to be opportunities where you can extend a hand to someone or give them an opportunity to earn a dismissal of their case — or redemption. “When you’re at the community level… there are plenty of people who have just made mistakes that need some guidance to get back on their feet, stop committing crime, and be productive members of society. That is a cornerstone principle of the Jesuit tradition and I try to do that.”

Georges also saluted his parents, who raised him and his two sisters near Dorchester’s Kane Square.

“It means everything to them,” he said, adding: “It’s important to acknowledge my Haitian heritage. It’s incredibly important for them to see that they came with the hope of giving us a better life and I think that through some measure of our achievement, they feel that they have.”

When Georges is confirmed by the Governor’s Council— likely next week— Gov. Baker will have appointed all seven sitting members of the Supreme Judicial Court, a considerable achievement. More impressively, the governor has made excellent choices, resulting in an SJC that is diverse in more ways than just race or gender. Judge Georges’s experience as a district level judge— one of only a handful ever elevated from that tier to the state’s top court— adds a breadth and depth of experience and perspective that will be invaluable in the court’s deliberations.

Coupled with his decision to promote Justice Kimberly Budd to fill the role of SJC chief, the Georges nomination made the past week a remarkable time for the Baker administration.

-Bill Forry