But do not be surprised if one or even two members of the Governor’s Council vote against confirming him. A relic of Colonial Era government, the Council provides a haven for some of the most unpredictable and inexplicable politicians in Massachusetts.The hearing on Ricciuti’s nomination was held before the eight-member Council this past Thursday. Former Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone testified that he’d seen "no better lawyer" in his decades of practice than Ricciuti.
If confirmed, Ricciuti will fill a vacancy left by the recent elevation of Judge Kimberly Budd to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.Ricciuti grew up in Quincy, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for two years, transferred to Harvard College, and went straight to Harvard Law School. After law school, he clerked for the late A. David Mazzone, a federal judge who grew up in Everett, went to Harvard, and was renowned as much for his brains as for his courage.
It was Mazzone who ordered the clean-up of Boston Harbor in 1985, a very costly and controversial undertaking that turned the harbor into Exhibit A of the value of large-scale, multi-year environmental remediation projects.Ricciuti told the Governor’s Council he came to the understanding that justice was administered properly in Mazzone's courtroom and asked him how to become a judge. "You need to experience the law fully," Mazzone told Ricciuti, recommending that he work in turn as a prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer and civil litigant. Ricciuti said, "I took all that to heart."
After clerking for Mazzone, Ricciuti worked for the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office and then as a trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.Ricciuti was a federal prosecutor for a decade ending in 2005 and was chief of anti-terrorism and national security in the office for a long spell.
The case that stood out for him the most during that period, according to a State House News Service account of Ricciuti’s nomination hearing, was a Drug Enforcement Administration crackdown on a drug-dealing operation that had overrun a public housing complex in Fitchburg. At the end, Ricciuti said, residents of the complex thanked law enforcement agents for their intervention.At 55, Ricciuti is a partner at K&L Gates, the eighth largest law firm in the U.S., and teaches on the side at Suffolk University Law School, which has undoubtedly produced more members of the Massachusetts legislature than any other law school through the years.
Ricciuti’s grandfather was an Italian immigrant -- a stonecutter who started a business “quarrying stone from the hills of Quincy and making it into monuments,” he said Thursday.Having inherited his grandfather’s work ethic and determination, he could have a monumental career on the bench.
The Governor’s Council is expected to vote on Ricciuti’s nomination later this week.
Footnote: My skepticism was off base. The Governor's Council voted unanimously earlier today (April 12) to confirm Atty. Michael Ricciuti's appointment to the Superior Court bench.