Public Service Award

The Justice Geraldine S. Hines
Public Service Award

The Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys (MBWA) is proud to announce the Justice Geraldine S. Hines Public Service Award, named in honor of The Honorable Justice Geraldine S. Hines (Ret.), the first African-American woman appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

This award recognizes a Black woman attorney in the Commonwealth who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public service, and like Justice Hines, has dedicated their career to advancing civil and human rights.

As of 2022, MBWA now presents this award each year during its annual Ida B. Wells Awards Celebration.

About the Honorable
Justice Geraldine S. Hines

Justice Geraldine S. HinesGeraldine S. Hines is a retired Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She was born in Scott, Mississippi and grew up in the Mississippi Delta during the Jim Crow era. Justice Hines graduated from Tougaloo College in Mississippi in 1968 and from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1971. She has been a member of the Massachusetts Bar for more than 50 years.

Justice Hines began her judicial career in 2000, as a judge on the Superior Court where she served for 12 years before being appointed to the Appeals Court in 2013. Governor Deval Patrick appointed her to the state’s highest court in 2014. At the time of her appointment, she was the first African American woman to serve on the Court in its three hundred- and twenty-two-year history. While on the SJC, Justice Hines authored important decisions in the area of criminal law, including Commonwealth v. Warren recognizing that a black man’s flight from the police in Boston “might just as easily be motivated by the desire to void the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity.” Justice Hines’ 2017 opinion in Commonwealth v. Brangan for a unanimous court fundamentally changed the bail procedure in Massachusetts, ruling that a judge must consider a defendant’s financial circumstances in setting bail. Upon her retirement from the bench, Justice Hines was named the Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School in 2018. Presently, she is the Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School where she teaches a course, “Race, Policing and the Constitution.”

Prior to her judicial tenure, Justice Hines’ practice was concentrated on criminal defense and civil rights litigation in both the Massachusetts state courts and the federal court. She served as cooperating counsel with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the ACLU of Massachusetts. As a trial lawyer, Justice Hines represented criminal defendants in murder cases and other major felonies. Her civil rights practice focused on the litigation of police misconduct and employment discrimination claims. In addition to her practice, Justice Hines was an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University School of Law where she taught in Criminal Advocacy Clinic for more than 20 years and later taught Criminal Trial Practice for 10 years after her appointment to the bench. Over the course of her legal and judicial career, Justice Hines contributed to dozens of continuing legal education programs as a panelist and author on a broad range of topics in criminal and civil rights law.

Justice Hines was actively involved in international human rights during her legal career. She was a founding member of Lawyers Against Apartheid and an active member and Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty as a member of a joint National Conference of Black Lawyers/National Lawyers Guild delegation investigating allegations of human rights abuses in Kuwait in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1992. In 1991, she served as an election observer in the referendum on Eritrean independence and as an observer in South Africa’s first multi-racial election in 1994. In 2010, she accepted an invitation from the International Judicial Academy to participate in its international law program in The Hague, Netherlands where the attendees observed trials involving war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at the International Criminal Court.

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.