BOSTON (AP) — The chief justice of the highest court in Massachusetts has announced his retirement after nearly 37 years as a judge.

In a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick Monday, Chief Justice Roderick Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court said he will retire in July.

READ MORE: Male In Norwood Shot Multiple Times, Taken By MedFlight To Boston Hospital; Police Searching For Gunman

Ireland is the first black chief justice in the court’s history.

He has served in that position since 2010.

In his letter, Ireland said he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 late this year and decided to step down before the court’s new term begins in September to ensure a smooth transition for his successor.

READ MORE: Allegiant Airplane Blows Out Tire After Rough Landing At Logan

Ireland was appointed to the high court in 1997.

Patrick called Ireland an “effective, compassionate and wise leader.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


MORE NEWS: Thousands Honor Slain Danvers Teacher Colleen Ritzer At Annual 5K In Andover

[display-posts category=”local” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4?”]