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A Student’s Perspective: Visiting the Supreme Judicial Court

The BBA Summer Jobs students met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon (Massachusetts Trial Court) to hear about her career and the process to become a judge.

The BBA Summer Jobs students met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon (Massachusetts Appeals Court) to hear about her career and the process to become a judge.

Guest Post: Elijah Oyenuga is one of the Summer Jobs Student working at the Boston Bar Association. He recently graduated from Another Course to College in Brighton and will be attending Lesley University next year.

The courts in Greater Boston always have a rich history behind them, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, or rather the John Adams Courthouse, is no different. Upon our visit to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, we were given a tour by the law clerks who graciously took the time out of their day to do so. First, we explored the court room occupied by the Supreme Judicial Court. It was by far the most beautiful and intimidating of the state courts. Next, we viewed two rooms, one dedicated to the life of our second president John Adams and another to the Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti case.

One of the cases showcased in the John Adams room, was the case of Quock Walker vs. Jennison, a case that helped abolish slavery in Massachusetts. It was case about an American slave who sued for his freedom in June 1781 and ended with Chief Justice William Cushing declaring all men to be born free and equal according to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. In contrast, we then have the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists who were wrongfully convicted and executed for armed robbery and murder. One is a prime example of when the law and those who swear to uphold it work in a just fashion; the other is a blatant crime, an abuse of power and prejudice. This was my second time embarking on this tour and it was still very insightful in terms of this working dichotomy that is always present in our society.

The BBA Summer Jobs students toured the courtrooms and historical galleries at the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

The BBA Summer Jobs students toured the courtrooms and historical galleries at the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

Last, we met with Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon of the Appeals Court. Associate Justice Hanlon is remarkable and charismatic woman with a whimsical personality. She told us about the amazing story of her life, from how she started out in her career to how she came to fall in love with Boston. It was interesting to learn her vast amount of occupations prior to becoming an Associate Justice. She headed the sexual assault unit, became an assistant United States attorney in Boston, worked in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, become an assistant attorney general, and formed a drug crime unit. Her life and experience is truly something for the textbooks. It is always motivating to meet such an amazing person because it lets the youth like us know that anything is possible.

The Boston Bar Association has put me into contact with lovely lawyers and judges that are just as amazing as Associate Justice Hanlon and that is a wonderful thing. My time at the BBA is coming to an end and I just want to thank everyone at the BBA, the lawyers and judges that came to speak with us. And most of all, I want to thank Katie D’Angelo for giving me this opportunity and being an amazing supervisor. This was by far the most enjoyable and educational summer I have ever had and it’s all thanks to you.