Bob Harnais will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Dominic J. Paratore.
BRAINTREE — Local attorney Robert Harnais has been nominated by Gov. Charlie Baker as an associate justice of the District Court. Harnais, a Braintree resident, serves on the town’s planning board, is chair of the Massasoit Community College board of trustees and is often seen at South Shore community meetings as council for developers and other stakeholders.
Harnais was appointed to the District Court alongside Michelle Fentress. Patrick M. Haggan, who was the lead courtroom prosecutor in the 2017 double murder trial of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, was appointed as associate justice of the Superior Court.
“The wide variety of cases tried by Attorneys Fentress, Harnais and Haggan in their decades of experience have prepared them well to serve as Associate Justices of the District and Superior Courts,” Baker said in a statement. “I am pleased to submit these candidates to the Governor’s Council for their advice and consent.”
Harnais started his legal career in 1991 at the law office of John Shorton in Roxbury, a general litigation firm. He served as a probation officer for the Quincy District Court from 1984 until 1988, and as an investigator for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue from 1988 until 1990.
In 1993, he started Mahoney & Harnais in Quincy, a general practice firm where he remains a partner and handles matters ranging from criminal and civil litigation to real estate conveyance and municipal permitting.
He has also served as chairman of the Braintree Planning Board since 2008, and as vice chair of the governor’s Latino Advisory Board since 2017.
The District Court hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health, and other types of cases. District Court criminal jurisdiction extends to all felonies punishable by a sentence up to 5 years, all misdemeanors, and all violations of city and town ordinances and bylaws.
In civil matters, District Court judges conduct both jury and jury-waived trials, and make final determinations on any matter where the likelihood of recovery is no more than $50,000. The District Court also tries small claims.
If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Attorney Fentress will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Antoinette E. M. Leoney and Attorney Harnais will fill the seat vacated by the Honorable Dominic J. Paratore.