WOBURN - City Council President Michael Anderson emerged as the top candidate for a judicial vacancy on the state's Probate and Family Court after being nominated for the post this past week by Mass. Governor Charles Baker.
In a prepared statement late Wednesday afternoon, Baker described Anderson, who owns a family law practice in Woburn, as the perfect candidate to fill an associate justice's opening created by the 2019 retirement of veteran family court Judge Randy J. Kaplan, who decided on divorce and custody-related matters in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex Counties for roughly 18-years.
Baker's designation of the City Council president as the leading candidate to fill Kaplan's seat now heads to the governor's council, an elected body charged with reviewing executive branch recommendations regarding judgeships, pardons, and appointments to the state's Parole and Appellate Tax Boards.
Besides advancing Anderson's proposed appointment, Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito also recommended the appointment of former Bristol County prosecutor Sylvia Gomes as an judge on the state's Juvenile Court.
“The many cases that Attorneys Gomes and Anderson have tried over their decades of experience have prepared them well to serve as Associate Justices of the Juvenile Court and the Probate and Family Court," said Governor Charlie Baker. "I am pleased to submit these qualified candidates to the Governor's Council for their advice and consent."
“Throughout their careers, Attorneys Gomes and Anderson have demonstrated a commitment to both public service and the families of the Commonwealth," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. "If confirmed by the Governor's Council, I am confident that they will maintain that commitment as Associate Justices of the Juvenile Court and the Probate and Family Court."
Now serving his second year as City Council president, voters in Ward 4 first elected Anderson to office during municipal elections in 2009. Before taking over the chairman's gavel, the Francis Road resident drew upon his legal background in pitching a number of zoning amendments and city ordinance changes.
Obtaining his law degree from Suffolk Law, Anderson started his legal career as an attorney at Boston's McLellan & Zack, where he practiced family law for nine years. In 2000, he breached out on his own by starting his own Woburn-based family law practice.
The city council president also reportedly performs legal work for an unspecified civil engineering and design firm by serving as an outside counsel.
The Francis Street resident is married to Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Margaret Pinkham, a practicing attorney who is widely regarded for her legal acuity and expertise in local zoning matters.
The Probate and Family Court Department has jurisdiction over family-related and probate matters such as divorce, paternity, child support, custody, parenting time, adoption, termination of parental rights, abuse prevention and wills, estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and changes of name. The Probate and Family Court has over 40 judges, including Chief Justice John D. Casey. If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Attorney Anderson will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Randy J. Kaplan.
Judicial nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the Governor’s Council. Applicants for judicial openings are reviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) and recommended to the governor. Governor Baker established the JNC in February 2015 pursuant to Executive Order 558, a non-partisan, non-political Commission composed of volunteers from a cross-section of the Commonwealth's diverse population to screen judicial applications. Twenty-one members were later appointed to the JNC in April 2015.