Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday nominated Appeals Court Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt to a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court, paving the way for her to become the first Latina to serve on the high court bench.
In a press conference, Baker highlighted Wendlandt’s thoughtfulness, collegiality and judiciousness in tapping her for the seat, one of two on the court Baker has been deliberating over.
“The judges and lawyers with whom we spoke uniformly support Judge Wendlandt,” Baker said. “She’s the total package. She’s patient, even-keeled and down-to-earth.
“Her fellow justices know they can depend on her and have said that her decisions are true to the law and the facts of each case and demonstrate her open-minded approach to the issues.”
The move comes days after Baker nominated Associate Justice Kimberly Budd as its next chief justice.
Along with the associate justice seat that Budd will vacate if she is confirmed, Baker also has to fill the seat that will open later this year with Judge Barbara Lenk’s retirement. Doing so will mean Baker has appointed all seven justices of the top court, if his nominees are confirmed.
Baker said the court has indicated that its members would like to Baker to fill the two seats by the end of the year, which the governor said he would try to do.
Baker appointed Wendlandt to the Appeals Court bench in 2017 to fill the seat that opened up with Elspeth Cypher’s elevation to the SJC. A New Orleans native and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, Wendlandt graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT before attending Stanford University Law School.
Wendlandt thanked her parents for giving her the opportunities she has had, saying she hoped to make them proud with her role on the court.
The Governor’s Council, which will vet Wendlandt for the SJC post, unanimously confirmed her for the Appeals Court.
Before becoming a judge, Wendlandt was a partner in the intellectual property litigation group at Ropes & Gray LLP. She clerked for Judge John Walker Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after graduating law school in 1996.
Last Thursday, Baker repeatedly highlighted Budd’s ability to listen to others and collaborate as he nominated her for for chief justice, paving the way for her to
“More than ever, we need her leadership,” Baker said, noting that her nomination comes amid a pandemic as well as ongoing calls for racial justice. “This court needs to led by someone who listens.”
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