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First Latina nominated to Massachusetts' highest court

Dalila Argaez Wendlandt
Posted at 5:26 AM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 06:27:10-05

BOSTON, Mass. — Massachusetts Appeals Court Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt was nominated Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker to fill an open seat on the state's highest court.

Wendlandt, if approved, would become the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court that dates to 1692.

“She's patient, even-keeled, and down to earth,” the Republican governor said at a news conference. “Her fellow justices know they can depend on her and have said her decisions are true to the law and the facts of each case, and demonstrate her open-minded approach to the issues."

Using a term often used in sports, Baker called her “the total package.”

Wendlandt, 51, has served on the appeals court, the state’s second highest court, since 2017.

Born in New Orleans, she is the daughter of Colombian immigrants and has engineering degrees from the University of Illinois and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a law degree from Stanford University Law School.

That background in science and the law gives her a unique perspective, Baker said.

“I am honored and humbled to be considered by you as worthy to sit alongside the legal giants that currently make up that bench," Wendlandt said.

She thanked her parents for having the courage to move to the U.S.

“I am keenly aware that I have this opportunity, this nomination today, because of their decision to build a family in this new land and adopt it as their own home," she said.

Her nomination to the seven-member court requires the approval by the Governor’s Council.

The Boston Bar Association called the nomination “commendable" and “historic."

"Justice Wendlandt has a brilliant, creative, and methodical legal mind," bar association President Martin F. Murphy said in a statement.

Wendlandt’s nomination comes about a week after Baker nominated Associate Justice Kimberly Budd to be the Supreme Judicial Court's chief justice. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to fill the seat.

Budd was nominated to take the seat of former Chief Justice Ralph Gants, who died in September.

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