In full transparency, the following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media from the Governor’s office.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced this week the nomination of Whitney J. Brown as Associate Justice of the Westborough District Court, and Kevin T. Smith as Associate Justice of the Land Court. Attorneys Brown and Smith have more than 60 years of combined legal experience.
“The many decades Attorneys Brown and Smith have spent handling cases before the District and Land Courts have prepared them well to serve as Associate Justices of the District and Land Courts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am pleased to submit these candidates to the Governor’s Council for their advice and consent.”
“I am confident that Attorney Brown’s and Attorney Smith’s familiarity with the trial court system, honed over more than two decades in many courtrooms, will allow them to run fair, efficient and effective courtroom sessions,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, their longstanding and deep commitment to their communities will be well received by the bench, bar and communities that they will serve with distinction and honor.”
The District Court hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health, and other types of cases. District Court criminal jurisdiction extends to all felonies punishable by a sentence up to 5 years, and many other specific felonies with greater potential penalties, all misdemeanors, and all violations of city and town ordinances and bylaws. In civil matters, District Court judges conduct both jury and jury-waived trials, and make final determinations on any matter where the likelihood of recovery is no more than $50,000 (for cases commenced on or after January 1, 2020). The District Court also tries small claims involving up to $7,000 (initially tried to a magistrate, where the defense has a right of appeal either to a judge or a jury).
If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Attorney Brown will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Robert B. Calagione.
The Land Court’s mission is to provide an accessible forum where specialized expertise is applied to resolve civil matters and disputes involving the ownership, development, and use of real property (i.e. Land). The seven justices of the Land Court sit in Boston and hear cases involving real property located in every part of Massachusetts.
Typical Land Court cases concern: land title disputes about ownership, easements, and property boundaries; zoning and subdivision appeals, challenges and enforcement proceedings; real estate tax and mortgage foreclosures; actions to enforce contracts to buy and sell real estate; partition proceedings; cases to interpret and reform conveyancing instruments, and cases seeking equitable and declaratory relief where real estate title interests are involved. Additionally, the Land Court hears cases to determine the military status of mortgagors, and the foreclosure and redemption of real estate tax liens.
The Land Court also has superintendence authority over the registered land offices in the county Registries of Deeds, and daily plays an important role in facilitating the transfer of registered land property ownership.
If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Attorney Smith will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Keith Long.
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.
Brown began her legal career in 1989 as a Law Clerk for Finneran and Associates in Newburyport, before joining Kezer & Kezer in Malden as an Associate in 1990. After more than three years in this role, Attorney Brown joined the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge as an Assistant Clerk Magistrate in 1993. During her 12 years in this role, she served as First Assistant Clerk Magistrate and was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court’s Judicial Education Policy Board, where she served as Chairperson for the Clerks Education Subcommittee under Justice Charles Fried. In 2005, Attorney Brown was appointed Clerk Magistrate of the Gardner District Court, where she continues to hear cases.
Since 2011, she has also served as Acting Clerk Magistrate of the Winchendon District Court. In addition to her work as a Clerk Magistrate, Attorney Brown has also served as an appointee to the Trial Court Complaint Standards Working Group and the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and as a Member of the Executive Board of the Association of Magistrates & Assistant Clerks. She is also a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, and has organized and volunteered educational events to introduce students to the legal profession and process.
Attorney Brown earned her Juris Doctorate from New England School of Law – Boston, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bridgeport.
Kevin T. Smith began his legal career in 1989 at Smith, Somerville & Case in Baltimore, Maryland, where he represented businesses and individuals in an insurance defense practice with a focus on construction disputes, before joining Gebhart & Smith in Baltimore in 1992 in a similar role until 1996. In 1996, Attorney Smith joined Masterman, Culbert & Tully, LLP, in Boston, where he represented corporations, small businesses and individuals before courts and administrative agencies in connection with eminent domain takings, and represented developers, contractors and individuals in breach of contract actions, trespass and boundary disputes and zoning appeals. After more than 10 years in this role, he joined Greenberg Traurig, LLC, in Boston in 2007, representing corporations, small businesses and individuals in land use and property rights disputes, including claims for damages from eminent domain takings, zoning appeals, Chapter 40B appeals and commercial lease disputes.
Since 2010, Attorney Smith has operated the Law Office of Kevin T. Smith in Concord, where he represents owners of all types of real property in disputes arising from real estate development projects, real estate or business transactions, and commercial leases, including contract litigation, general business disputes, construction disputes and employer-employee disputes, in addition to advising clients on all aspects of real estate development.
Attorney Smith is also an active member of his community, having served previously as a Member of the Boards of Friends of Concord Carlise Fields and Carlise Conservation Foundation, and as a youth football and basketball coach.
He earned his Juris Doctorate from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and his Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College.