Superior Court Judge Locke Chosen as Trial Court Chief

A veteran Superior Court judge will take over as Chief Justice of the Trial Court next week, succeeding Paula Carey when she heads into retirement.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday appointed Judge Jeffrey Locke to serve as the next top official of the Trial Court system, tasking him with overseeing policy and judicial affairs for all of the state’s District, Superior, Housing, Juvenile, Land, Probate and Family, and Boston Municipal Courts as well as the Office of the Commissioner of Probation and the Office of Jury Commissioner.

Locke has served as a Superior Court judge since 2001, when the Governor’s Council confirmed him with a 6-1 vote. He worked as the regional administrative justice for all cases in Plymouth County between 2007 and 2011 and for Suffolk County criminal cases from 2012 to 2015. Since 2018, Locke has chaired the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission.

A Boston University law school graduate, Locke worked as a prosecutor before he became a judge. Between 1997 and 1999, Locke served as Norfolk County District Attorney. He spent eight years before that as an assistant U.S. attorney, including a stint as deputy chief of the office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1994 to 1997.

“He is the right person for these times, and we are grateful that he is willing to lend his talents to this role,” SJC Chief Justice Kimberly Budd said in a statement. “Judge Locke’s experience, skills and dedication to the mission of the Trial Court will allow him, working with the Court Administrator, to effectively lead the Trial Court in this challenging period.”

Locke — whose father, David Locke, once served as the Senate’s Republican leader — takes over atop the trial court system as the entire judiciary continues to grapple with COVID-19 impacts. Many proceedings are again taking place remotely amid the latest surge fueled by the omicron variant.

“Working with the many talented trial court managers, starting with Court Administrator John Bello and the dedicated Trial Court departmental chief justices, I will strive to address immediate challenges resulting from the pandemic and also build on improvements put in place by Chief Justice Carey,” Locke said in a statement.

Carey, who became the Trial Court’s chief justice in 2013, announced her retirement plans last fall. She will officially step down on Tuesday, and Locke’s first day in his new role will be Wednesday.

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