Cornelius F. Kiernan Judicial Center

The Lowell Justice Center, soon to be the Cornelius F. Kiernan Judicial Center

As the FY2023 state budget was being finalized a few months ago, State Senator Edward Kennedy inserted the following language:

“SECTION 55A. The Lowell Judicial Center in the city of Lowell shall be designated and known as the Cornelius F. Kiernan Judicial Center, in memory of the late honorable Cornelius F. Kiernan. The division of capital asset management and maintenance shall erect suitable markers bearing this designation in compliance with the standards of the division; provided, however, that the executive office of the trial court shall maintain the markers.”.

Cornelius F. Kiernan

Cornelius F. Kiernan was born in Lowell on August 15, 1917. He graduated from St. Patrick’s School, Lowell High School, and Northeastern University. He also received his law degree from Boston University in 1941. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, Kiernan practiced law in Lowell and was elected to the Lowell School Committee in 1947. While serving his first term on the school committee, he ran for the state legislature and was elected to represent a district that included the Acre and most of the Highlands. By 1958 he had risen to the office of Majority Leader, the second most important position in the House after the Speaker. However, in 1962 he challenged the incumbent speaker. The attempt was unsuccessful and he was out of leadership for a while but eventually he became the House chair of the joint committee on the Judiciary. He was in that position in 1974 when Governor Francis Sargent appointed him to be a justice at the Somerville District Court. When a judge at the Lowell District Court unexpectedly retired a few months later, Sargent appointed Judge Kiernan to that court where he served until his retirement. Kiernan died on January 20, 1996, at age 78

At the same time that Senator Kennedy addressed the naming of the Lowell Justice Center, State Representative Rady Mom proposed the following amendment which was co-sponsored by State Representative Colleen Garry of Dracut:

The law library of the Lowell Judicial Center in the city of Lowell shall be designated and known as the Daniel P. Leahy Law Library, in memory of the late honorable Daniel P. Leahy for his many contributions to the city of Lowell, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the United States. Daniel P. Leahy was born in Lowell in 1935. A veteran of the Korean Conflict, Daniel P. Leahy proudly served his country in the U.S. Army. Following his honorable discharge from the armed forces, he then went on to graduate from Boston College with the Class of 1960 and then Suffolk Law School. He served in the general court as a state senator for 2 terms, from 1994-1998. Daniel P. Leahy was also a member of the Lowell city council, elected in 1999, then worked as a clerk magistrate in Charlestown. He is the co-founder of Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Life in 1984 which was the forerunner of Mustard Seed Communities, the international ministry which continues today to support Fr. Gregory’s work in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Zimbabwe, helping to feed, clothe, and shelter poor children. The division of capital asset management and maintenance shall erect and maintain suitable markers bearing this designation in compliance with the standards of the division.

Leahy died in 2016. He was the father of current Lowell City Councilor John Leahy (and of Kathleen, Lynda, Daniel II, and Mark). Dan Leahy is also notable for being one of the few politicians who made a term limits pledge and then kept to it after being elected. When running for the State Senate in 1994, he promised that if elected he would serve only two terms. He chose not to run for reelection in 1998 which opened the way for then State Representative Steve Panagiotakos to win the Senate seat. The following year, Leahy ran successfully for the Lowell City Council. He was reelected to a second term but cut that short by resigning from the council when he was appointed to be a Clerk Magistrate in the Charlestown District Court.

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