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Regional News

Western Mass. Left Out As Kafker Nominated To SJC

Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott Kafker.
Mark M. Murray
The Republican
Appeals Court Chief Justice Scott Kafker.

Scott Kafker, the current chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court is Republican Governor Charlie Baker's nominee to the state's highest court.

This is Baker's fifth appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court.

But Governor's Council member Mary Hurley said she is disappointed in the selection, especially for the citizens of western Massachusetts she represents. She'd been lobbying the governor for months.

"There are plenty of competent, qualified people with a lot of talent, who really could have made a contribution in terms of regional diversity, and provided the Supreme Judicial Court with information relevant to cases that they hear that come from the western part of the state," Hurley said.

Hurley, a Democrat from East Longmeadow, said Baker's selection smacks of cronyism. She said she isn't going to stop lobbying Baker with another SJC opening expected next year.

"My mantra every time I see the governor is going to be '413 for the SJC,'" Hurley said. "I intend to keep pushing and hopefully they'll acknowledge and realize the importance of having someone from western Mass. on the SJC."

Western Mass. has been without a resident on the SJC since justice Francis Spina of Pittsfield retired last year.

Kafker must still be approved by the Governor's Council. Members unanimously approved Baker's last pick, Elspeth "Ellie" Cypher, the first SJC justice from Bristol County in more than a century.

As for Kafker, as an undergraduate he did spend some time in western Mass., as an undergraduate at Amherst College.