When looking for his replacement as First Chief Justice of the East Boston Municipal Court, Chief Justice Robert Ronquillo said he wanted someone with care and compassion that would take the court here to the next level.
Ronquillo said he found these qualities in the Honorable John E. McDonald Jr.
Judge McDonald was sworn in as Eastie’s First Chief Justice last Thursday at the courthouse. Joined by his wife, children and extended family, McDonald was administered the oath by his predecessor Judge Ronquillo.
McDonald, served as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, Central Division. Prior to that McDonald served as an Assistant Clerk-Magistrate at the Boston Municipal Court, Central Division, a position he has held since 2006.
During his time as an Associate Justice, McDonald oversaw the Dorchester Courthouse’s widely successful drug court, a program that was also implemented here in Eastie by former First Chief Justice Dominic Russo.
The program allows non-violent drug offenders to choose treatment over jail time.
McDonald said he plans to continue the program here in Eastie and give it his full support.
The 18-month program, with strict supervision, requires participants to remain in custody, enter rehabilitation and find a job or attain a degree.
The drug court here dates back to the mid 1990s. At the time Judge Russo, in response to community needs, implemented the program. In the following years, statistics showed that only 5% of users that have left Eastie’s drug court relapsed.
The court has received endorsements from Mayor Martin Walsh and District Attorney Dan Conley. Conley, who was present at McDonald’s swearing in last week said he was confident that McDonald would continue the program with the same success it has enjoyed in the past.
McDonald began his legal career in 1992, serving for two years as a District Court prosecutor in the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. He maintained a sole practice in Braintree for 12 years from 1994 to 2006, concentrating on both civil and criminal litigation. McDonald graduated from Boston College (B.A. cum laude, 1988) and Columbus School of Law, Catholic University (J.D., 1991).