• Leonard Webb

Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt brings “diversity” to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Updated: Feb 8

Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt was unanimously confirmed by the Governor's Council for a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court, where she will become the state's first Latina high court justice.

Councilor Marilyn Devaney said Wendlandt, whoearned an MIT master's degree in engineering before embarking on a law career, brings a unique series of qualifications to the bench, and Councilor Terrence Kennedy called her a "fantastic nominee." Wendlandt is Gov. Charlie Baker's sixth appointee to the SJC bench, and a hearing is set for his seventh nominee, Boston Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges. Devaney said she thinks Wendlandt will work well with Kimberly Budd, whom the council unanimously approved as the Supreme Judicial Court's new chief justice.

Wendlandt, 51, has served on the Appeals Court since 2017. Before becoming a judge, she was a partner in the intellectual property litigation group at Ropes & Gray LLP. Devaney said Wendlandt has an extensive list of published writings and was once appointed to propose changes to Massachusetts patent laws. "Her legal experience even extended to being co-counsel on a death penalty matter in another state, so I am very pleased to make that motion to appoint Judge Wendlandt to the Supreme Judicial Court," Devaney said. "We have great members up there, every one of them with Wendlandt being the first Latina on the state’s highest court.”

“The judges and lawyers with whom we spoke uniformly support Judge Wendlandt. Her colleagues and those who appeared before describe her as brilliant, a home run, a great colleague,” Baker said during a press conference. Wendlandt said that she was honored to be nominated and said she would be remiss to not take a moment to thank her parents, who immigrated from Colombia in the 1960s. “I am keenly aware that I have this opportunity, this nomination, because of their decision to build a family in this new land and adopt it as their own home. If confirmed, I will, as I always have, dedicate myself to making my parents, and all those who have entrusted their faith in me, proud,” Wendlandt said. “Thank you to Jeff, my husband, and my children, who without hesitation have supported me as I transitioned from private practice to devoting my life to public service."

Wendlandt is a role model and inspiration to women, said Lt. Gov Karyn Polito. Baker said fellow justices feel they can depend on Wendlandt, who has been described as even-keeled and down to Earth with a terrific sense of humor. “We heard over and over again that Justice Wendlandt would be a fair and respected member of the Supreme Judicial Court,” Polito said. Baker in 2017 nominated Wendlandt to the Appeals Court. She filled the seat that opened up when Elspeth Cypher moved to the SJC. In three years, she’s authored 30 decisions. Wendlandt has been described by the administration as an expert in patent, trade secret and trademark misappropriation litigation.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Wendlandt graduated from the University of Illinois in 1991 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and received her M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993. Then, she earned her J.D. from Stanford University Law School in 1996, where she served as Article Development Editor of the Stanford Law Review.

While at MIT, Wendlandt designed a robot, Baker said. “She wanted to use her engineering ability to solve complex problems and marry that with the law,” Baker said. “She described herself as having fallen in love with science math and debate, and she is very accomplished in all three.” Previously, Wendlandt was a partner in the Intellectual Property Litigation Group at Ropes & Gray in Boston. Before starting at Ropes & Gray, Wendlandt clerked for Judge John M. Walker Jr. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York.

She has also served as a Special Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County.

Wendlandt has worked on cases including trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement litigation and has provided pro bono work including assisting clients with applications for political asylum and representation of a death row inmate.

The Massachusetts Bar Association applauded Baker’s nomination. “Governor Baker’s nomination of Justice Wendlandt is a historic and smart choice for the SJC and the commonwealth, which will benefit both from her perspectives as a Latina woman and also as an appellate jurist and former intellectual property litigator,” said Massachusetts Bar Association President Denise I. Murphy. “Justice Wendlandt’s strong background in engineering and life sciences will be especially valuable as Massachusetts continues to grow its stature nationally as a leading biotech hub.”

Please join me in congratulating Ethnic GEM Judge Dalila Argaez Wendlandt to the Supreme Judicial Court!

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