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Judicial Roundup: New Judges at the Plymouth and Norfolk Probate & Family Courts in 2016

Massachusetts divorce lawyer Jason V. Owens reviews the latest changes to the lineup of judges sitting at the Plymouth Probate and Family Court and Norfolk Probate and Family Court.

Last December, we wrote about changes to the judicial lineups at the Plymouth Probate and Family Court and Norfolk Probate and Family Court, including the retirement of former First Justice of the Plymouth Probate and Family Court, Hon. Catherine P. Sabaitis, as well as the transfer of Hon. Jennifer M. Ulwick from Norfolk County to the Essex Probate and Family Court, where Judge Ulwick is now the First Justice.

In January, we updated our blog to reveal that Judge Sabaitis was replaced in Plymouth County by Hon. George F. Phelan, while Judge Ulwick would be replaced in Norfolk County by Hon. Elaine M. Moriarty in March of 2015. We can now report that Judge Moriarty is settling into her new post in Norfolk County (our attorneys have already appeared before her). However, we also hear that Judge Phelan’s stay in Plymouth will be brief. Starting this week, Judge Phelan’s seat in Plymouth will begin transitioning to recently-confirmed Hon. Lee M. Pederson, who will hear cases in Plymouth County for about two months before yielding the seat to permanent replacement Hon. Kevin R. Connelly, who spent the last several year sitting at the Suffolk Probate and Family Court after a brief stint in Norfolk County. Our sources suggest that Judge Phelan will likely return to Norfolk County in June, although we are awaiting confirmation of the change.

The transition from Judge Phelan to Judge Connelly in Plymouth County will be phased, with Judge Pederson managing an increasing number of cases in April May 2016, followed by Judge Connelly gradually taking over cases until finally taking the reins for good around June.

For those keeping track at home, assuming these predictions all pan out (see “important disclaimer” below), the revised lineups at each Court should look something like this by June 2016:

Plymouth Probate and Family Court

  • Hon. Edward G. Boyle III, First Justice
  • Hon. Lisa A. Roberts, Associate Justice
  • Hon. Patrick W. Stanton, Associate Justice
  • Hon. Kevin R. Connelly, Associate Justice as of June 1, 2016*

*Cases heard by Hon. George F. Phelan and Hon. Lee M. Pederson through 5/31/16

Norfolk Probate & Family Court

  • Hon. Hon. John D. Casey, First Justice
  • Hon. James V. Menno, Associate Justice
  • Hon. Elaine M. Moriarty, Associate Justice
  • Hon. Susan L. Jacobs, Associate Justice
  • Hon. George F. Phelan, Associate Justice as of June 1, 2016**


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER ABOUT JUDICIAL SEATS: while the predictions regarding judicial lineups in this blog are based on the best available information to our team at Lynch & Owens (i.e. our educated guesses, gossip we hear, tips from court staff whose identities we will never reveal, etc.), readers should know that the state’s probate and family trial court department frequently moves judges to new counties withl ittle or no warning, and that judges and court staff are constantly retiring, changing counties, and filling temporary vacancies all the time. Do not under any circumstances rely on this blog when making decisions about a pending case involving any judge referenced here. Call the court and check the online judicial calendar frequently if you have questions.

About the Author: Jason V. Owens is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and Massachusetts family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Schedule a consultation with Jason V. Owens today at (781) 253-2049 or send him an email

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