First African-American Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice to Address Stetson Law Commencement

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Roderick L. Ireland, the first African-American chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, will deliver Stetson law school’s commencement address on May 14.

Retired Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland.

Roderick L. Ireland, the first African-American chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, will deliver Stetson law school’s commencement address at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, on Stetson’s Gulfport campus, 1401 61st St. S.

A total of 273 Stetson law school students will celebrate commencement, among them, 70 part-time J.D. students, seven J.D./M.B.A. students, one J.D./M.P.H. student, two J.D./MINTEC students, one J.D./Grado student, 12 LL.M. in Advocacy, four LL.M. in Elder Law and 10 LL.M. in International Law students.

Roderick L. Ireland is a Distinguished Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to joining the full-time faculty at Northeastern where he taught as adjunct faculty since 1978, Ireland had been a judge for 37 years, serving in the Boston Juvenile Court from 1977 to 1990, the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 1990 to 1997, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1997 to 2014.

When he was appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1997, Ireland became the first African-American to sit on that bench in its over 300-year history. In 2010, Ireland became the Court’s first African-American chief justice.

Chief Justice Ireland received his B.A. from Lincoln University, J.D. from Columbia University Law School, LL.M. from Harvard University Law School, and Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University. He began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney in Harlem, and then worked as a public defender in Boston with the Roxbury Defenders Committee from 1971 to 1973, becoming its executive director after serving as chief attorney and deputy director. From 1975 to 1977, he served as assistant secretary and chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

As one of the four justices who voted in favor of same-sex marriage in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (2003), the nation’s very first case in which a state supreme court declared same-sex marriage constitutional, Ireland has spoken frequently on the subject and has written about this experience in a law review article entitled, “In Goodridge’s Wake: Reflections on the Political, Public and Personal Repercussions of the Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Cases.” He is also the author of a two-volume treatise on Massachusetts Juvenile Law published by Thomson/Reuters in its Massachusetts Practice Series (1st ed.1993, 2nd ed. 2006).

Chief Justice Ireland has been widely recognized for his community contributions and professional achievements, and has received numerous honors and awards.

About Stetson University College of Law
Stetson University College of Law, Florida's first law school, has prepared lawyers and leaders since 1900. Today, Stetson leads the nation in blending legal doctrine with practical training, evidenced by its top-ranked programs in advocacy and legal writing. Through our academically rigorous curriculum and commitment to social responsibility, Stetson lawyers are ethical advocates ready to succeed in the legal profession.

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Brandi Palmer
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