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MA SJC Justice to Join BC Law

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth B. Cypher will join BC Law as Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor


Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) Justice Elspeth B. Cypher, who recently announced her upcoming retirement from the court after more than two decades of service, will join Boston College Law School as the Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law for Spring 2024.

Justice Cypher’s retirement from the SJC will occur on January 12, 2024. Appointed by Governor Charlie Baker, Justice Cypher was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on March 31, 2017. 

“I have been privileged to have served the Commonwealth as an appellate justice for over 23 years,” said Justice Cypher in a recent statement released by the SJC. “I have been humbled and honored by Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for nominating me to the Supreme Judicial Court and by the Governor’s Council for approving the nomination. I am also deeply grateful to Governor Cellucci and Lt. Governor Swift for entrusting me with the position of associate justice on the Appeals Court.” She went on to thank her colleagues, SJC staff, and her family and friends for their support, and wrote that she was looking forward to “pursuing my love of teaching” as Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor at BC Law. 

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd called Justice Cypher “an exceptional friend and colleague” who brought her keen knowledge of the law and the constitution to the Massachusetts courts for over 20 years. “We are deeply grateful for her service to the people of the Commonwealth,” Budd said.

Justice Cypher’s appointment is for an initial period of one semester (Spring 2024), renewable by mutual consent. The Huber Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 2019 to facilitate the Law School’s ability to bring extraordinarily talented lawyers and veteran practitioners to the BC Law campus, to teach courses built specifically for them. The first Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor was former SJC Justice Geraldine Hines in 2019, who previously served as a Rappaport Visiting Professor in Spring 2018 after retiring from the bench and who will continue as the Huber Distinguished Visitor for fall 2023. The position was named after former BC Law Dean Richard Huber, who passed away in 2011.

“We are thrilled to welcome Justice Cypher to BC Law as Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor,” said Odette Lienau, the inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean at BC Law. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience to enrich the classroom, and I am certain our students and the entire community will benefit greatly from her presence here with us.”

Justice Cypher was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1959. She received a BA, magna cum laude, from Emerson College in 1980 and a JD, cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 1986, where she served on the Suffolk University Law Review.

From 1986 to 1988, she was an associate at the Boston law firm of Grayer, Brown and Dilday. In 1988 she became an Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County, where she served for the next 12 years. From 1993 to 2000, she was chief of the Appellate Division of that office and argued many cases before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court.

On December 27, 2000, Governor Paul Cellucci appointed her to the Massachusetts Appeals Court as an Associate Justice.

Justice Cypher has been an adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School. Prior to that, she taught for many years at the University of Massachusetts School of Law. She received an honorary PhD from Emerson College in 2017, an honorary JD from UMass in 2018, and, most recently, the Marilyn Archer Trailblazer Award in 2022.

Over the years, Justice Cypher has written extensively about developments in criminal law in the Commonwealth. Active in the Massachusetts Bar Association, she has served as co-chair of its criminal law section. She was the recipient of the Green Bag’s Exemplary Legal Writing award in 2018, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly‘s Lawyer of the Year Award in 2000.

In 2012, Justice Kent B. Smith asked her to co-author a fourth edition of his books in the Massachusetts Practice Series, Criminal Practice and Procedure. Before his death, she assumed responsibility for the supplement in 2013 and for the fourth edition, which was published in 2014. Each year, she updates the annual supplement and plans to continue to do so.