Article Source: SHNS
Author: Sam Doran
Departure Would Drop Republican Ranks to 28 In 160-Seat House
The Republican ranks in the Massachusetts House may soon grow even lighter as Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday nominated a Groton GOP lawmaker for a court post.
Baker nominated Rep. Sheila Harrington, the ranking Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, to serve as clerk magistrate of the Gardner District Court.
Harrington’s nomination needs confirmation by the Governor’s Council, which approves the vast majority of court appointments.
Councilor Eileen Duff on Wednesday scheduled a public hearing on Harrington’s nomination for Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.
An attorney, Harrington was first elected to the House in 2010 in a district that runs along the New Hampshire border, including Ashby, Townsend, Pepperell, Dunstable, Groton, and part of Ayer. She served on the six-member conference committee that crafted the compromise version of a sweeping criminal justice reform bill in 2017-2018.
She narrowly won her most recent reelection bid in 2020, keeping her First Middlesex House seat with 51.5 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Deborah Busser, also of Groton.
Harrington broke with the GOP caucus last year as the only Republican to vote against restoring an eight-year term limit for House speakers, and again as the sole Republican to vote in favor of the House’s vaccine mandate for lawmakers and staff working in-person at the State House.
The House Republican caucus has already dropped by six members in the last four years. The roster has stood at 29 members, or around 18 percent of the House, since Rep. Brad Hill resigned last September for a post on the state Gaming Commission.
A 1985 New England School of Law graduate, Harrington, 61, has operated her own law office in Groton and Harvard since 2000, according to her resume, focusing on family law, personal injury, and general litigation, and real estate conveyancing.
She was previously a partner in firms Alter & Harrington and Casey & Harrington, and was an associate in the Fitchburg law offices of George Watts and the Harvard firm of Robert Casey Jr. She was also a liability claims supervisor in the bodily injury claims unit at The Travelers Companies.
The top clerk position in Gardner opened up last spring, according to the governor’s nomination letter, when Clerk Magistrate Whitney Brown departed to accept a District Court judgeship. Unlike judgeships, which come with a mandatory retirement age of 70, clerk magistrates receive a lifetime appointment.