University of Chicago graduate Scott Kafker is an experienced legal practitioner who taught at the Boston College Law School from 2009 to 2015. He served as an associate justice of the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2001 until he was appointed the court’s chief justice in 2015. Based in Boston, Scott Kafker is a member of the Boston Bar Association (BBA).
The BBA includes many of the best and brightest law practitioners in Boston, and has a distinguished history.
The BBA’s mission is to advance the standards of excellence in the profession and enhance the accessibility of justice among those who seek it. The association also aims to serve the community at large and does this through several initiatives, including the Public Interest Leadership Program.
The BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program was conceptualized in 2002 by Chief Judge Mark Wolf and then-BBA president Michael Keating, both of whom saw the need for young lawyers to take on leadership roles in their communities. Since its inception, the program has successfully attracted early-career lawyers with a demonstrated commitment to public service and pro bono work.
The program lasts 14 months, during which participants attend meetings and events where they work with community leaders. During these interactions, young lawyers learn the difficulties experienced by local organizations, which encourages them to participate in efforts to address community needs.
Possessing over three decades of legal experience, Scott Kafker currently serves as chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Recently, Scott Kafker was nominated to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charles L. Baker. If approved, Kafker would become the governor’s fifth appointment to the seven-member court since taking office in 2015. Baker’s other appointments include:
– Kimberly Budd: Sworn in last August, Justice Budd studied at Georgetown University and then Harvard Law School. She formerly served as an assistant US attorney in the major crimes and drug units for the District of Massachusetts. Later, she was a university attorney for Harvard University.
– Elspeth Cypher: The newest addition, Justice Cypher was sworn into the court in March 2017. She studied at Emerson College and Suffolk University Law School before becoming an assistant district attorney in Bristol County. Serving as chief of the Appellate Division for the office, she was appointed to the appeals court in 2000.
– Frank Gaziano: An associate justice since August 2016, Justice Gaziano attended Lafayette College and Suffolk Law School. He entered public service in 1991 as a Plymouth County assistant district attorney. In this position, he focused on complex felony cases. Governor Mitt Romney appointed him to the Superior Court in 2004.
– David Lowy: Also sworn into the court in August 2016, Justice Lowy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and he later attended Boston University School of Law. He served as a law clerk in the US District Court and later as an assistant district attorney in Essex and Suffolk Counties. In addition, he was deputy legal counsel for Governor William F. Weld.
Scott Kafker has served as chief justice of the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the past two years. Alongside his responsibilities as a judge, Scott Kafker is a legal scholar who focuses largely on state constitutional law. For six years, he taught a course on the subject at Boston College Law School.
Most Americans are familiar with the Constitution of the United States, but not necessarily with how individual state constitutions relate to that document. The federal document defines the structure of the national government as well as the scope of its power. Each state has its own constitution, which outlines the structure of its own legislative, judicial, and executive branches. State constitutions also contain a bill of rights, similar to the federal Constitution.
State constitutions typically focus on limiting powers, since general authority is already established through the state legislature’s police powers. Often, state constitutions are incredibly long and address unique issues rather than constitutional ones. Alabama’s constitution, for example, runs for 600 pages, whereas the US Constitution can be read in a single sitting.
Also, state constitutions tend to be amended easily. Massachusetts has amended its constitution 120 times. Changing the federal Constitution is much more difficult. Since the 1791 Bill of Rights, only 17 amendments have been made.
For the past two years, Scott Kafker has served as Chief Justice of the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the apex of a lengthy career as an appeals court judge. Governor Charles L. Baker appointed him to the position, which oversees the state’s entire appellate process with the exception of capital murder cases. Outside of his legal career, Scott Kafker is committed to causes that support cancer research and prevention, and he previously served on the board of trustees at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
A recent study published by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has discovered genetic anomalies linked to prostate cancer are more likely to be found in African-American patients. Researchers believe this data may be a significant key to unlocking the reason why this patient population tends to have higher prostate cancer incidence and fatality rates than other populations.
In studying data from The Cancer Genome Atlas, researchers found these genetic abnormalities in roughly five percent of tumor samples from African-American men, compared to only one percent of a mostly Caucasian population. Dana-Farber oncologist Franklin Huang, MD, PhD, pointed to the results as an important informational tool that researchers can use moving forward as they continue to study the disproportionately high prostate cancer rates in the African-American population.