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Marcus Morton (judge)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marcus Morton
Marcus Morton (jurist).png
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
Preceded byEbenezer R. Hoar
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
Preceded byHorace Gray
Succeeded byWalbridge A. Field
Personal details
BornApril 8, 1819
Taunton, Massachusetts
DiedFebruary 10, 1891(1891-02-10) (aged 71)
Andover, Massachusetts
Spouse(s)Abby B. Hoppin
ChildrenMarcus Morton
ParentsMarcus Morton and Charlotte Hodges
Professionlawyer, jurist

Marcus Morton (April 8, 1819 – February 10, 1891), American lawyer and jurist who served as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, was born in Taunton, the son of future Governor Marcus Morton and his wife Charlotte (née Hodges). He attended Bristol County Academy, was graduated from Brown University in 1838, and from Harvard Law School in 1840. After one year in the Boston office of Judge Peleg Sprague, he was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1841 and practised in Boston for seventeen years. His first appearance in a public position was as a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853, in which he sat for Andover, his home from 1850. In 1858 he served in the state House of Representatives, where he was chairman of the committee on elections and rendered reports on important questions regarding election law, which the House came to follow.

His judicial service began with his appointment in 1858 to the superior court of Suffolk County and continued unbroken for over thirty-two years. During these years he was one of the original ten members of the state superior court, organized in 1859; Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts from April 15, 1869; and Chief Justice from January 16, 1882 to August 27, 1890, at which time he resigned because of ill health. He died of heart failure in Andover, leaving his widow, whom, as Abby B. Hoppin of Providence, Rhode Island, he had married on October 19, 1843, a son, and five daughters.

Morton was by temperament an excellent judge, thorough, strong and reliable rather than brilliant, rapid in assimilating materials and in dispatching business, always accessible, of sufficient learning, courageous in deciding according to his convictions, and of unusual practical sagacity and native shrewdness. Possessed of a direct and vigorous sense of justice, he viewed cases comprehensively, aiming at substantial justice rather than "the sharp quillets of the law". His summaries to juries were characterized by their simplicity, intelligibility, accurate sense of proportion, and impartiality. His judgments, of which over twelve hundred are recorded in the Massachusetts Reports, are compact, clear, and forcible, and, in the opinion of his associates, contain few dicta which will require overruling or qualifications. As a nisi prius judge he is said to have had few equals in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In private life he was plain and unassuming and, though of great personal charm and popularity, averse to public display.

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There is a remarkable – and unique – experiment going on in the San Francisco Superior Court. So the Honorable Tani Cantil Sakauye, Chief Justice of California, dropped in to see it for herself. Judge Kathleen Kelly presides over the Juvenile Reentry Court. It’s the only one of its kind in the nation, partially funded by a federal grant from the Department of Justice. A whole team works with young people represented by the public defender, starting when they’ve been ordered to live in foster or group homes. The makeup of the team is unprecedented. Not only the court, probation, and community services; but also the public defender and the D.A. – all working together proactively to solve problems early, and help the kids succeed. Kwanza Morton, Deputy Probation Officer, S.F. “This is not just to get you off of probation but this is also so you won’t go into any other type of anything else but success.” They make a comprehensive plan that may involve housing, therapy, education, drug treatment – whatever is needed to get the kid back on track. Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “It’s not the judge coming up with the plan, it’s not the probation officer coming up with the plan, it’s the whole team working together with the young person and their family to come up with a plan that’s most realistic.” But these are kids in crisis; transitioning back home can be rough, as this mother well knows. (back of mom’s head) “She’s just got a bad attitude and just very disrespectful. And I try, I try.” Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “I know you do. I know you’re trying. And this is, actually, really, both of you are trying.” Rebecca Marcus, Deputy Public Defender, S.F. “So this is hard, but we are going to make it through this.” In another case, a more positive report. Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “It would help me if I heard from you. (back of M’s head) “Ok, I think I’m doing good, I had a few bumps in my road at first.” (back of mom’s head) “You know we all fall down but she got right back up and she got herself into a program that she likes so I’m proud of that.” Once restitution is arranged, dismissal is likely. More than 85 teens have participated so far. Often, there is success. Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “There is a recommendation for dismissal in this case. Is there any objection to the recommendation?” “ No.” After a lot of hard work, this young man has a plan that he’s determined to follow. (back of R’s head) “I just want to put the bad things behind me and move forward.” And his mother couldn’t be more grateful to the reentry team. (back of mom’s head) “Thank you everybody, for my son.” Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “No graduation is complete without a treat, and a special card and all of our congratulations.” (Applause) But this isn’t the end. The whole team will continue their mentoring – indefinitely. Kwanza Morton, Deputy Probation Officer, S.F. “We’re here and we’re available so that’s what this is all about.” The Chief Justice was very impressed. Hon. Tani Cantil Sakauye, Chief Justice of California, “I thought it was an incredible effort, this collaboration, to save young lives.” And they’re saving taxpayer dollars; there are fewer kids bouncing back into the justice system. 2 years into the 3 year pilot program, the Department of Justice is also impressed. This collaborative team approach could become a model for the nation. Hon. Kathleen Kelly, S.F. Superior Court “I think you can create good teams around the state and across the country; I’m confident you can do that. And it’s the right thing to do.” I’m Leanne Kozak reporting in San Francisco for California Courts News.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Ebenezer R. Hoar
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
April 15, 1869 – January 16, 1882
Succeeded by
Charles Allen
Preceded by
Horace Gray
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
January 16, 1882 – August 27, 1890
Succeeded by
Walbridge A. Field
This page was last edited on 2 November 2019, at 02:10
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