Judge Frank M. Gaziano, a 1989 graduate of Suffolk University Law School with a notable record of public service, has been confirmed for a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts by unanimous vote of the Governor's Council.
Gaziano, 52, has been serving as a justice on the state’s Superior Court. Last month Gov. Charlie Baker nominated him and colleagues David Lowy, who has served as an adjunct faculty member at Suffolk Law, and Kimberly Budd to fill SJC positions opening up due to justices’ retirements. Gaziano was the first to win approval from the Governor’s Council.
“Suffolk Law is proud of Judge Gaziano’s distinguished record of public service, and his nomination to the Supreme Judicial Court is a recognition of his numerous professional achievements,” said Law School Dean Andrew Perlman in June when the nomination was announced. “Judge Gaziano is one of a long list of distinguished jurists who have received their legal education at Suffolk Law and who have put their knowledge and skills to work for the public good.”
Gaziano actively supports the education of Suffolk students by taking on Suffolk Law interns through the school’s First-Year Summer Internship Program, or FYSIP, which places students in judicial internships the summer after their first year of law school. He has taken a summer intern through FYSIP–Judicial since 2012 and also has had upper-level student interns during the academic year. Student interns conduct legal research and prepare memoranda, observe court proceedings, and discuss cases with Gaziano.
Six other Suffolk Law alumni sit on Supreme Judicial Courts in New England, with the chief justices of the Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire SJCs holding Suffolk University Law School degrees. Gaziano's confirmation means that Suffolk Law alumni will be serving on all New England high courts, with the exception of Maine's.
Gaziano, a Democrat, was appointed to the Superior Court in 2004 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney after serving as a prosecutor for 12 years, first in the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office and then with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. He began his legal career as a litigation associate at Foley Hoag & Elliot.
As a Superior Court judge, Gaziano addressed the fallout from the 2012 drug lab scandal, reviewing convictions called into question because chemist Annie Dookhan had falsified test results. He also presided over the 2009 trial of imposter and murderer Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who went by the name Clark Rockefeller and was apprehended by the FBI after kidnapping his daughter during a supervised visitation. The case gained international exposure, including film and TV treatments.
In the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gaziano was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and prosecuted high-profile and complex cases. He was part of a team that secured a death sentence for Gary Lee Sampson, who had murdered three strangers in 2003. Sampson remains on death row.
As an assistant district attorney, he prosecuted major felony cases, including homicides, and represented the commonwealth in appeals before the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court.
Gaziano has been serving as chair of the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Criminal Rules; as a member of the Supreme Judicial Court Model Homicide Instruction Committee; and on the Trial Court Committees on Bail, Evidence Retention and Storage, and Security. He was the former regional administrative justice for Plymouth County and Suffolk Superior Criminal Business.
In addition to his legal work, Gaziano also has lectured at Stonehill College, teaching criminal law and criminal procedure.
Gaziano earned his bachelor’s degree in 1986 from Lafayette College and earned a JD, magna cum laude, in 1989 from Suffolk University Law School, where he was an editor of the Suffolk Law Review. He resides in Scituate with his family.
Seven justices sit on the SJC, and three of them—Robert Cordy, Fernande Duffly and Francis Spina—plan to retire before the court’s new session this fall. Justices Margot Botsford and Geraldine S. Hines will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 next year.