In full transparency, the following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
BOSTON — Today, May 11, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker nominated Attorney Christopher P. Belezos and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth A. Dunigan as Associate Justices of the Superior Court, and Attorney Mary Gallant-Cote as Clerk Magistrate of the Berkshire Juvenile Court.
“Attorneys Belezos, Dunigan and Gallant-Cote are all accomplished individuals who are excellent candidates for these appointments,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am glad to submit their nominations to the Governor’s Council for their advice and consent.”
“These three experienced candidates bring tremendous trial and courtroom experience to their new roles,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “If approved, I am confident that they will serve as fair and thoughtful members of the judiciary.”
The Superior Court, the trial court of general jurisdiction for Massachusetts, is committed to delivering high quality justice in a timely and fair manner in accordance with the rule of law. The Court’s 82 justices sit in 20 courthouses in all 14 counties of the Commonwealth. The Superior Court has original jurisdiction in civil actions over $25,000 and in matters where equitable relief is sought. It also has original jurisdiction in actions including labor disputes where injunctive relief is sought, exclusive authority to convene medical malpractice tribunals, appellate jurisdiction over certain administrative proceedings, and may hold sittings for naturalization in any city or town. The Superior Court also has exclusive original jurisdiction of first-degree murder cases and original jurisdiction of all other crimes.
The Juvenile Court Department is a statewide court with jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters including delinquencies, care and protections, youthful offender cases and children requiring assistance. The Juvenile Court’s mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect, to strengthen families, to rehabilitate juveniles and to protect the public from delinquent and criminal behavior. The Juvenile Court has over 40 judges, including Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem, in over 40 locations.
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.
Belezos began his legal career in 1990 at Brown & Associates where he handled criminal defense, probate, motor vehicle and collection cases. From 1992 until 1997, Belezos worked at his solo practice, the Law Office of Christopher P. Belezos, where he concentrated on criminal defense. From 1997 to 2011, Belezos worked at the firm Belezos & Gratzer. While there, Belezos worked on criminal defense, personal injury and worker’s compensation matters.
Since 2011, Belezos has maintained a solo practice, where he handles cases in a variety of courts throughout the Commonwealth. He also participates in the community in various ways, including as a member of the Marshfield Zoning Board of Appeals and the Boy Scouts of America, as well as a volunteer at the Marshfield Education Foundation and the North River Arts Society.
Belezos received his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in 1987 and his Juris Doctorate from Northeastern School of Law in 1990.
Elizabeth A. Dunigan has served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office since 1996, where she prosecutes a variety of cases in District and Superior Courts. In 1998, Attorney Dunigan became a supervisor at the Malden District Court. In 2002, Attorney Dunigan moved to the Child Abuse Unit and prosecuted sexual and physical abuse cases before working in the Lowell Regional District Court until 2007 where she prosecuted major felony cases including homicides, sexual assaults and gang-related offenses. Then, from 2007 to 2008, Dunigan returned to the Child Abuse Unit as the Deputy Chief, before becoming Deputy Chief of the Lowell Regional Superior Court until 2010. She currently serves as Chief of the Malden Regional Superior Court, where she has investigated and prosecuted homicides among various other crimes.
Additionally, Dunigan was an active member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, where she served on various committees, including as Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee for MA and a member of the Sandra Day O’Connor Jurist Award Committee.
Dunigan received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1991 and her Juris Doctorate from New England School of Law in 1996.
Gallant-Cote began her legal career with Western Mass Legal Services as a student attorney in 2007. Later that year, Gallant-Cote joined the Law Offices of Patricia M. Herbert until 2009 when Gallant-Cote established her solo practice, the Law Offices of Mary Gallant-Cote, and represented a large number of clients in criminal and civil law.
Since 2016, Attorney Gallant-Cote has served as the Assistant Regional Legal Counsel to the Department of Children and Families. Additionally, Gallant-Cote has worked in the past as an adjunct professor of criminal law and as a member of the Moot Court Team at Fitchburg State University.
Gallant-Cote received her bachelor’s degree from Fitchburg State University and her Juris Doctor from Western New England School of Law.