Public Service Award

The Justice Geraldine S. Hines
Public Service Award

In 2023, the MBWA announced the Justice Geraldine S. Hines Public Service Award, named in honor of the Honorable Geraldine S. Hines (Ret.), the first African American woman appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

With this award, the MBWA honors a Black woman attorney in recognition of outstanding commitment to public service, and like Justice Hines, is dedicated to advancing civil and human rights.

Prior to naming this award, the MBWA first presented a Public Interest Award during its 35th anniversary year before bestowing the award annually as of 2022 during the Ida B. Wells Awards Celebration.

About the Honorable
Justice Geraldine S. Hines

Justice Geraldine S. Hines Geraldine S. Hines was born in Scott, Mississippi and grew up in the Mississippi Delta. She graduated from Tougaloo College in 1968 and the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1971. Upon graduation she became a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, engaging in prisoner’s rights litigation, and then, from 1973 to 1977 practiced criminal law with the Roxbury Defenders’ Committee in positions of progressively greater responsibility culminating as the Director of the Committee.

After an MIT fellowship researching policy initiatives to address the issue of police misconduct in communities of color, she served as co-counsel in Commonwealth v. Willie Sanders, a highly publicized trial of a Black man accused of raping eight women. From 1979-1982 she litigated civil rights cases relating to discrimination in education and advised on special education law while a staff attorney at the Harvard University Center for Law and Education.

Justice Hines entered private practice in 1982, appearing in state and federal courts on criminal, administrative, labor and family law matters. Of particular note, she continued to litigate civil rights cases, including employment discrimination and police misconduct claims, as a founding partner in the first law firm of women of color in the New England region. In 2001, she began her judicial career as an associate justice of the Superior Court.

Justice Hines has been extremely active in a number of civic and community organizations, some of the more prominent being the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild and the National Conference of Black Lawyers. Stemming from her role in these organizations she has observed elections and investigated human rights abuses in both Africa and the Middle East. She also was appointed to both the Judicial Nominating Council and the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Justice Hines has also been an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University School of Law since 1980 and has been a frequent speaker at several dozen educational programs for attorneys and judges, particularly MCLE, where she has both presented and published the materials in diverse subjects such as trial advocacy, Federal civil litigation and municipal torts and civil rights claims.

Appointed to the Appeals Court by Governor Deval Patrick, Justice Hines joined the court as an associate justice in 2013. She served in that capacity until July 31, 2014, when Governor Patrick appointed her to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court. At the time of her appointment, Justice Hines was the first African American woman to serve on the Court in its 322-year history.

Meet the 2023 Honoree

April English

April English serves as the Chief Secretary to Governor Maura T. Healey. As Chief Secretary, she oversees the administration's efforts to fill appointments on boards and commissions and throughout the administration. Prior to joining the Governor’s office, Chief Secretary English worked in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office for over 19 years.


Previous Award Honorees

Widmine "Lola"

Angela McConney

Jacquelynne J.