Two district court judges tapped for Superior Court bench


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BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker tapped two District Court judges Wednesday for elevation to the Superior Court bench, along with a former Boston city attorney for a seat on the Boston Municipal Court.

Judge Katie Cook Rayburn of Weymouth has sat as a judge in Plymouth and Bristol counties since 2017. A former prosecutor in Bristol County, she was assigned to the Conrad Roy/Michelle Carter texting-suicide case, which resulted in Carter’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter just months before Rayburn took the bench.

Rayburn was portrayed by actress Aya Cash in this spring’s Hulu series “The Girl From Plainville” based on that case. Baker’s other Superior Court pick, Judge Sarah Weyland Ellis, has sat as first justice of Waltham District Court since December, following nearly five years as an associate justice. She had previously worked for three years as legal policy director and deputy general counsel to the District Court system.

The Governor’s Council was unanimous in its confirmation of both Rayburn and Ellis to their current posts in 2017. Baker’s BMC nominee is Erika Paula Reis, who returned to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in February as general counsel after five years as the City of Boston’s senior assistant corporation counsel. Reis was previously a Suffolk County prosecutor from 2007 to 2011, deputy general counsel to Inspector General Greg Sullivan from 2011 to 2012, and Boston’s assistant corporation counsel from 2012 to 2016.

The New England School of Law graduate also spent a year as counsel to Eversource Energy. Her resume says she is fluent in Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole, and proficient in French. Ellis’ public interview is scheduled for May 18 at 1 p.m. with Councilor Marilyn Devaney presiding. Councilor Chris Iannella had not yet picked dates for the Rayburn or Reis hearings.

The council could have voted Wednesday on whether to confirm another Boston Municipal Court nominee, criminal defense attorney Joseph Griffin Jr., but that item was spiked from the session’s calendar. Councilor Robert Jubinville, who chaired Griffin’s interview and by custom would make the motion to confirm him, was participating remotely Wednesday. Under council rules, members must be physically present in order to vote. 

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