Alumna makes Massachusetts Supreme Court

by Max Reyes / Beacon Staff • March 16, 2017

Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margot Botsford stepped down Wednesday, making space for her replacement, Emerson College alumna Elspeth “Ellie” Cypher.

The 1980 graduate was unanimously confirmed by the Governor’s Council as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court last week, according to press releases issued by the State House’s press office. Both Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito congratulated her on the confirmation in the press release. Cypher could not be reached for comment.

Cypher is one of seven justices on the court, which consists of six Associate Justices and one Chief Justice, according to mass.gov. Baker nominated Cypher to the court to replace Botsford, who retired March 15, the day before her 70th birthday. Massachusetts mandates state justices retire at age 70, unlike justices on the United States Supreme Court, who serve for life.

She served with the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office for 12 years, according to the press release. Former governor Paul Cellucci appointed Cypher to the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2000, where she eventually became a Senior Associate Justice.

Before going into public law, Cypher worked for Professor Michael Brown’s law practice. Brown taught her during her time at Emerson and said he noticed her academic talent and intelligence.

Brown described Cypher as a perfect student with a propensity for the legal world. He said that during a chance encounter after Cypher graduated, she mentioned she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a career. Brown said he suggested Cypher pursue a law degree, which she eventually did.

“She has a reverence for the law,” he said. “She’s exactly the kind of person who needs to be a judge.”

The college’s Communications Studies department plans to hold a meet and greet with Cypher March 23 to be overseen by the department’s Senior Scholar-In-Residence, Spencer Kimball.