Georges takes oath, joins Supreme Judicial Court

Justice Serge Georges (right) embraced his friend Robert Bruhl who flew in from Hawaii to watch Georges be sworn in at the State House as a member of the Supreme Judicial Court. Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/Pool photo

The ceremony to swear in Judge Serge Georges to the Supreme Judicial court, like most other events during the pandemic, was scaled back from the usual fanfare that accompanies such affairs.

But Georges, who wore a maroon Boston College Eagles facemask while taking the oath of office, still welcomed family and friends to mark the moment, including one former classmate from his undergraduate days at Chestnut Hill who traveled all the way from Hawaii.

That friend, Robert Bruhl, wrote a letter of recommendation on Georges's behalf that Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito described as "the best letter of recommendation I have ever read" -- so good that Polito kept a folded-up copy in her pocket during Wednesday's ceremony -- detailing a bound, black journal that Georges gave as a gift 17 years ago to mark the birth of Bruhl's first child.

"By that time, we had been close friends for a decade, and he knew how tender the gift would be, and it came with a solemn message as its inscription: 'Be committed to this,'" Polito read from the letter. "If you were looking for someone to toe the line, he's not your guy."

Georges, a 50-year-old Boston Municipal Court judge, cruised through his nomination process, earning a unanimous confirmation vote from the Governor's Council.

Before taking the oath, Georges repeated a pledge that he made to Gov. Charlie Baker and Polito earlier in the process when he was still being weighed as a candidate for a spot on the high court.

"I know you didn't put me here to do anything other than what I think is right, but I do want you all to remember what I said to you at the interview: I won't let you down," he said.

With Georges officially sworn in, the SJC is back up to full strength with seven members. The sudden death of Chief Justice Ralph Gants in September and the retirement this month of Justice Barbara Lenk contributed to a further reshuffling of a court that has undergone a full turnover during Baker's years in office.

Georges joins Baker's two other recent picks -- Justice Kimberly Budd, who was elevated to chief justice, and Justice Dalila Wendlandt -- to complete the governor's reshaping of the state's highest court.

All seven current members were nominated by Baker and confirmed by the elected Governor's Council, a nearly unprecedented feat and one that's simply not available to most governors.

Georges, the son of Haitian immigrants, will be the third nonwhite member of the historically white panel alongside Wendlandt and Budd.

He also brings a unique perspective as a district court judge. Only a handful of SJC justices in the court's lengthy history, including fellow current Justice David Lowy, have served on district courts before joining the high panel.

At his confirmation hearing, Georges said that experience will help tether key decisions to the impacts they will carry on the ground.

"We are thrilled that you applied and we're very excited to see what kind of a path you cut over the course of your time in this critically important role at this very important moment in our state's history," Baker told Georges.