Trial Court chief Paula Carey to retire

Top court official to step down in January


TRIAL COURT CHIEF JUSTICE Paula Carey, one of the most influential figures in the Massachusetts judiciary, plans to retire early next year after the better part of a decade in the role, officials announced Friday.

Carey will step down in January 2022 as the policy and judicial head of the Trial Court, an umbrella that includes district, superior, housing, land, probate and family, juvenile, and Boston municipal courts.

During her tenure, she worked alongside the court administrator to oversee 385 judges, 6,300 employees, an annual budget of nearly $780 million and 97 courthouses, officials said.

“I continue to have the same passions I have always had and will continue to work towards racial equity and access to justice for all,” Carey said in a statement. “Retirement for me is not an ending, but the beginning of a different life committed to the same principles, just in a different way that permits me to attend to the imminent needs of my loved ones.”

The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Carey to a five-year term as Trial Court chief justice in July 2013, then reappointed her to a second term in 2018.

A spokesperson for the SJC said the court will select a successor for a five-year term. Carey’s current term is not set to expire until July 2023, and at age 64 she is still short of the mandatory retirement age of 70, but she opted to leave early in 2022 “after a great deal of thought and reflection.”

“I have two families — my personal family and my Trial Court family — and I have reached a point where I cannot meet the needs of both without sacrificing my dedication to one,” she said.

Carey played a leading role last year in launching an eviction diversion initiative alongside the Baker administration, which replaced the state’s pandemic-era moratorium on evictions with programs to connect tenants and landlords with rental aid and legal resources.

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Chris Lisinski

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In 2018, Carey created the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Experience. She also helped develop a “data-driven justice reinvestment approach to reduce reoffending, contain corrections spending and invest in strategies to increase public safety,” according to the SJC.

Carey previously served as chief justice of the Probate and Family Court from 2007 to 2013. Before she became a judge, she co-founded the Carey and Mooney PC family law practice.