Judge Jeffrey Winik, first judge of the Boston Housing Court, is a true champion of justice. On May 13th BBA President J.D. Smeallie will present Judge Winik with the Citation of Judicial Excellence at Law Day Dinner. We at Beyond the Billable know Judge Winik for his dedication to the Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court program.
We touched base with people who work with Judge Winik every week to see what they had to say about him:
Christopher Saccardi, The Law Office of Christopher T. Saccardi
My first court appearances as a new lawyer were in front of Judge Winik on pro bono matters, I was incredibly nervous, and I remember him being very patient as I stumbled through my arguments. While I certainly do not always prevail, I always get the sense that he appreciates that I am there trying to help someone who would otherwise be unrepresented. Judge Winik’s appreciation of the role volunteer attorneys’ play is clear in his willingness to speak regularly at BBA panels on housing law and to help new attorneys gain the confidence necessary to effectively represent low-income litigants at the Housing Court.
Andrew Cohn, WilmerHale
When asked to reflect on Judge Winik’s contributions to the Lawyer for a Day program, a few things stood out to me:
◊ Judge Winik has continued to help the Lawyer for a Day program increase available resources for pro se litigants, with the aim of achieving greater balance and fairness in judicial process even in a time of diminished resources.
◊ He has played a lead role in fostering the use of Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) in the Housing Court, in keeping with the SJC’s guidance.
◊ His example reminds all Lawyer for a Day program volunteers that JUSTICE is about PROCESS not about OUTCOMES.
◊ While being a staunch advocate for the program, Judge Winik has made clear that no ex parte communications of any kind relating to pending cases can be discussed in his presence; showing us all once again his commitment to fairness.
When thinking of Judge Winik’s contributions to the program, Virgil’s quote “None but himself can be his parallel.” comes to mind. The Lawyer for a Day program, the Boston Bar Association and the citizens of the Commonwealth owe Judge Winik a large debt of gratitude.
Hon. Robert B. Foster, Land Court Department of the Trial Court
Judge Winik’s support for the Lawyer for the Day program has been unwavering, and its success is due in no small part to his efforts. When we served together on the Real Estate Pro Bono committee, he was always the calming voice, with the usually sensible suggestion that would lead us out of whatever argument we might be having with each other. After I was appointed to the Land Court, I had the great pleasure of getting to know Judge Winik as a colleague. He is still the calm voice of reason, with the same thoughtful outlook on issues, but with just maybe a bit more leeway to crack jokes! He’s been a great help to me in my first year on the bench. I’m so glad the BBA is honoring him for all his work to support access to justice.
Joanna Allison, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association.
I call Judge Winik’s courtroom the humiliation free zone. Knowing volunteers will not be “made to seem a fool” not only gives them comfort but also empowers litigants who will be appearing pro se. I suggest that new lawyers sit in on Judge Winik’s session to see what goes on there on Thursday eviction days. If Judge Winik notices that he has an audience, he will find them later or call them up to the bench and ask if they have any questions about what they have seen. This is no less than a thrill for the new attorneys, to be noticed and treated respectfully by a member of the judiciary.
I have taken to comparing Judge Winik to Bruce Springsteen for his rock star status among the Lawyer for the Day volunteers. When asked about the comparison, most volunteers have said they would prefer to have Judge Winik come to the Lawyer for the Day table with his advice, gratitude and humility. After all, they opine, Bruce can only sing. Judge Winik is truly THE BOSS.