Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, who had begun to focus the judicial system on issues of racial and ethnic inequalities, died today. He was 65.
Gov. Patrick appointed Gants as chief justice in 2014. Earlier, Gov. Weld had appointed him a judge in the state Superior Court system.
Gants had had a heart attack on Sept. 4 and had two stents installed in a blocked artery. Following his surgery, he posted a memo saying he was looking forward to getting back to work.
A graduate of both Harvard and Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review, he worked as a special assistant to FBI Director William Webster and as an assistant US Attorney in Massachusetts, before leaving for a job at Boston law firm Palmer & Dodge. Gov. Weld appointed him a Superior Court judge. He also tought at Harvard Law, New England Law and Northeaster School of Law.
In recent months, Gants had made racial equality a focus of the court, after several years of SJC decisions that had put a racial-equity lens on the criminal-justice system. Just last week, he hailed a report by Harvard Law researchers that found Blacks in Massachusetts were more likely to be imprisoned for particular crimes than whites.
Gov. Baker will now appoint a new chief justice, subject to the approval of the Governor's Council.