Roderick L. Ireland
|Roderick L. Ireland|
|Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court|
December 20, 2010 – July 25, 2014
|Nominated by||Deval Patrick|
|Preceded by||Margaret H. Marshall|
|Succeeded by||Ralph Gants|
|Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court|
1997 – December 19, 2010
|Nominated by||William Weld|
|Succeeded by||Fernande R.V. Duffly|
December 3, 1944 |
|Alma mater||Lincoln University
Columbia Law School
Harvard Law School
Roderick L. Ireland is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and the first African American to serve at that position. He was nominated for Chief Justice by Governor Deval Patrick on November 4, 2010, and sworn in on December 20.He retired from service on the court on July 25, 2014.
Ireland was born on December 3rd, 1944, in Springfield, Massachusetts, specifically on Terrence Street, the son of Helen Garner Ireland, an elementary school teacher, from Spartanburg, South Carolina and George Lovelace Ireland.
Ireland graduated from Lincoln University with a B.A. in 1966, from Columbia Law School with a J.D. in 1969, from Harvard Law School with an LL.M. in 1975, and from Northeastern University's Law, Policy, and Society Program with a PhD. in 1998. 
Roxbury Defenders Committee
In 1971 alongside Wallace Sherwood, Ireland formed the Roxbury Defenders Committee (also known as the Roxbury Defenders). At the time, while the Massachusetts Defenders Committee did exist, Sherwood and Ireland felt there needed to be a site more local to Roxbury, a low income, predominately minority neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. However, as the committee was linked to the Massachusetts Defenders Committee, it received its funding from the same place: Massachusetts Committee for Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice.
The mission of the Roxbury Defenders Committee was broken into three parts:
1. To provide vigorous and comprehensive service to the client population
2. To provide legal services without first being appointed by the court
3. To provide, on a referral basis, related social services.
The Legal Line
In order to create more awareness of the services that they were offering, Sherwood and Ireland created the Legal Line, a weekly, one hour program on the radio station WILD, where they fielded questions from listeners as well as speaking on legal problems that arose during their proceedings.
Ireland left the Roxbury Defenders Committee in 1974.
In 1997, he was appointed Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Governor William Weld. He is the first African-American associate justice and also the first African-American chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He resigned from the high court in 2014, and was replaced by Associate Justice Ralph Gants.
Chief Justice Ireland has served on the faculty of both Northeastern University School of Law and Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.
In 2017, the Hampden County Hall of Justice was renamed the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in honor of Ireland.
He is the author of Massachusetts Juvenile Law, a volume of the Massachusetts Practice Series.
- Boston Globe: Frank Phillips, "Patrick to name first African-American chief justice of SJC", November 4, 2010, accessed December 21, 2010
- WBUR: "Ireland Is Sworn In As SJC Chief Justice," December 20, 2010, accessed December 21, 2010
- Today in Black History, 12/3/2014
- "Springfield honors Justice Roderick Ireland with street name". WWLP.com. 30 June 2015.
- "Helen Garner Ireland's Obituary on The Republican". The Republican.
- "Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland" (PDF). Museum of African American History.
- "Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland". Mass.gov.
- Ireland, Roderick (June 2013). "Roxbury Defender's Committee: Reflections on the Early Years" (PDF). Massachusetts Law Review. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
- "Honorary Degrees - Commencement - excelsior.edu". my.excelsior.edu.
- "Congressman Seth Moulton to Address UMass Boston Class of 2016".