, Salem, MA


April 25, 2014

Benton: Clout keeps courts in Salem

News that work is about to begin on a $55 million renovation of the historic Essex Probate and Family Court building on Federal Street provides yet another reminder of the tremendous clout Salem has enjoyed on Beacon Hill.

Sadly, the recent departure of state Sen. Fred Berry and the decision by state Rep. John Keenan not to seek re-election this November leaves a huge void in terms of the city’s influence in the halls of the Statehouse. Those two, along with the late Mike Ruane, were instrumental in securing funds for a major overhaul of the county court complex, along with the construction of new facilities including a new law library in the former First Baptist Church.

Sen. Joan Lovely, now nearing the end of her first term; and Paul Tucker, Keenan’s likely successor as state representative for Salem; will have big shoes to fill.

There was a time only a decade or so ago when judges, lawyers and elected officials were advocating for construction of a new court complex with lots of room for parking out on the highway in Peabody or Danvers. Such a move would have been devastating to Salem’s central business district, which has served as the hub of legal activity in the region since even before the infamous witchcraft trials in the latter part of the 17th century.

Ruane, who rose to become one of the most influential members of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Keenan, along with Berry, the former Senate majority leader from Peabody, made sure the courts remained in downtown Salem.

The state funds that have been poured into the construction of the new J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center and the renovation of the majestic Probate Court building next door should cement Salem’s place as the center of the regional judicial system for decades to come.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate