Two Western Massachusetts women and a Worcester attorney who represents that county’s sheriff’s department have been nominated for judgeships, following protests about too few people who live outside the Boston area being selected for court positions.
Maureen E. Walsh, currently the presiding justice of Northampton District Court and the regional administrative judge for the four Western Massachusetts counties, was has been nominated as an associate judge on the state Appeals Court, Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Wednesday.
In addition, Lisa S. Lippiello, a Northampton lawyer who currently specializes in employment discrimination and sexual harassment cases, has been nominated as an associated judge for district court. She previously spent a dozen years as a New York City police officer, rising to the ranks to lieutenant, the announcement said.
Andrew J. Abdella, the sole legal adviser and general counsel and chief administrative officer to the Worcester Sheriff’s Office, has also been nominated as a district court associate justice. After graduating from Suffolk University Law School, he began his career in 2006 as an assistant city solicitor for Worcester, it said.
“Throughout their careers, Judge Walsh and Attorneys Lippiello and Abdella have demonstrated a strong commitment to serving their communities,” Baker said in writing. “Should they be confirmed, I am confident that their knowledge of the law and wisdom will serve the Commonwealth and their respective courts well.”
The nominations come about six months after Mary Hurley, the Western Massachusetts representative on the Governor’s Council, joined local attorneys and retired judges to protest a lack of nominations to the Supreme Judicial Court of people who live west of Interstate 495 after two vacancies opened on that bench.
The Governor’s Council confirms judicial nominations across the state. Hurley, who retired as an associated justice in 2014 and also served as mayor of Springfield, said she is delighted with the nominations.
“I’m thrilled with the nomination of Maureen Walsh to the Appeals Court. She is an outstanding jurist,” she said.
Hurley said she worked with Walsh when both were justices since Walsh is the regional administrative judge. She said Walsh excelled in the position even though it is a “thankless job.”
Walsh was first named as an associate justice of the Eastern Hampshire District Court in 2008 and later served as presiding justice in Holyoke District Court. She began her career as a law clerk to federal Judge Michael A. Ponsor and also served as a member of the Massachusetts Parole Board.
Hurley also said she knows Lippiello, who began her law career as a public defender in Northampton and has a variety of experience in private practice, handling criminal defense cases and matters tied to the LBGTQ community.
“She is a former police officer and practiced in Northampton and I know she will make an excellent justice,” she said.
Judicial nominations, as well as jury trials and many court matters, have been largely on hold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most courthouses closed and hearings were held virtually. Now that courthouses are opening, Hurley said she expects a flood of nominations as courts begin to move through a backlog of cases.
As that happens, she said she wants to ensure people are nominated to justice positions in communities that they know best.
“Local people know the character of the community,” she said. “In Springfield, for example, drugs, gangs and firearms are a greater problem than they are in Westfield or Northampton, and it is good to understand that.”
She urged qualified lawyers to submit applications for nominations for judgeships.