MATA Mourns the Loss of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants

The Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA) joins our brothers and sisters of the Massachusetts bench and bar in mourning the tragic death of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants.  Chief Justice Gants represented everything that is good about our justice system and reflected the best of Massachusetts jurisprudence.  


Chief Justice Gants was an intellectual powerhouse - his knowledge and ability to apply the law was without dispute.  However, the real legacy of Chief Justice Gants was his personal decency, generosity, and kindness.  He was unfailingly dedicated to the people of Massachusetts and the cause of access to justice for all people. 


This is a monumental loss for the Massachusetts legal community and all the people of Massachusetts.  MATA members, leadership and staff deeply appreciate Chief Justice Gant’s willingness to always be accessible and responsive to our members’ concerns.  This was never more evident than during the past six months as the courts struggled with the challenges of Covid 19.  Our deepest thoughts go out to his friends, colleagues, and family during this difficult time.


Brendan G. Carney

President, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys


In Memoriam: Edwin Wallace


It is with extreme sadness that the leadership and staff of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys acknowledge the passing of MATA Past-President and longtime friend Edwin Wallace.


We are heartbroken to hear of the untimely death of Ed Wallace on July 4th.  Ed was a longtime champion of MATA and his career was dedicated to tireless representation of “the little guy” through his landmark representation of injured people – particularly those harmed by the tobacco and asbestos industries.


Ed Wallace was always there when MATA needed him.  He was one of the people who were instrumental in bringing attorney-conducted voir dire to Massachusetts.  Ed was also an important resource in helping our members learn the skills needed to succeed in that area.  Ed was always eager and willing to mentor young lawyers. I first met Ed when I was a teenager, through his friendship with my father.  Like many of you, I shared many good laughs with Ed.  He was instrumental in my development as a lawyer and my involvement with MATA, providing necessary guidance and encouragement along the way.  I am sure he has provided the same for many of you.  We are all going to miss Ed’s quick wit, intelligence, experience and fundamental human decency.


In recent years, as Ed faced his own health challenges (and yet never complained), he remained an active participant in MATA and inspired many of us by continuing to offer good advice and funny quips during his participation in MATA Board of Governors’ meetings.  Ed was named to be the recipient of the 2020 MATA Courageous Advocacy Award.


Our hearts go out to Ed’s wife Lisa, his three sons, colleagues and friends. We already miss him very much.


Brendan G. Carney








MATA Statement Regarding the Death of George Floyd

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


The Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys has long been an advocate for equal justice and institutional and personal accountability.  We join our colleagues in the legal community and citizens across the nation to mourn the death of George Floyd.  We also call for an end to the systemic inequalities in our justice system which killed Mr. Floyd and have caused many like him to suffer abuse, indignities and death since our nation’s founding.


We salute those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out against these atrocities and advocate for equal rights for all under the law.  Our own local  history demonstrates that protest can be a necessary part of progress.


We hope that lawyers will use this as a time of self-reflection. MATA recognizes that our organization and the bar as a whole have not met the challenge in making our association, profession and justice system more diverse.  A system that does not reflect America cannot adequately represent America.  This disconnect results in repeated tragedies and crimes against society. 


Fifty-seven years ago, in response to the threats on the University of Alabama campus following desegregation attempts, John F. Kennedy said: I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened….Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise.”


By 2020, we should have moved well beyond this basic expectation and fulfilled the promise our nation makes to its citizens, to treat them equally.  We can and must do better.


Locally and nationally, there are many outstanding civil rights and legal services organizations that are fighting to address the issues we are facing.  We hope you will look into these groups and support one that speaks to you.  As lawyers, we all enjoy a certain level of privilege in the world.  Those of us with this kind of privilege should commit to listen more, learn more, and work harder to make our system fairer for everyone.  Please do not let this moment go to waste.



Kathy Jo Cook

President, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys







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Credit: Trial Lawyers Association of DC.






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