OF COUNSEL, THE HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER J. ARMSTRONG (Ret.)
Christopher J. Armstrong was one of the six original justices of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, appointed to that position by Governor Francis W. Sargent when the court was created. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Appeals Court by Governor Paul Cellucci in 2000. He stepped down as the Appeals Court’s Chief Justice (and as the senior member of the entire Massachusetts judiciary) in 2006. Thereafter Justice Armstrong served the court for two additional years as a retired recall justice, leaving finally in 2008, having served the Court as a justice for the first thirty-six years of its history. During his tenure, he authored more than 1,100 signed opinions and sat on numerous additional matters. The Massachusetts Appeals Court has jurisdiction over nearly every type of case except for first degree murder.
The great appellate lawyer John W, Davis once compared the lawyer arguing an appeal to a fly fisherman seeking to land a fish. “[I]n the argument of an appeal the advocate is angling, concisely and deliberately angling, for the judicial mind. Whatever tends to attract judicial favour to the advocate’s claim is useful. Whatever repels it is useless or worse. The whole art of the advocate consists in choosing the one and avoiding the other.” After thirty-six years of personal experience on the Appeals Court, Chris Armstrong knows what the judicial mind of an appellate judge finds attractive.
Since stepping down from the Appeals Court, Chris has been affiliated with the firms of Dwyer & Collora, later Collora, and the Boston office of Hogan Lovells. He has also served as a Mediator, Arbitrator, and Case Evaluator at REBA Dispute Resolution, Inc. https://www.reba.net/UserFiles/files/DR/Armstrong_BIO.pdf
In addition to his judicial opinions, Chris is the Coauthor of the LexisNexis volume “Massachusetts Appellate Practice.”
The Appeals Court has named one of its two courtrooms in Justice Armstrong’s honor. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=FhIu1lV0w-Y. The Massachusetts Bar Association awarded him its highest judicial award, the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award for exceptional contributions to the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. The Boston Bar Association awarded Justice Armstrong its Citation of Judicial Excellence. In 2007, he was named by Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly as one of thirty-five persons who had most influenced the practice of law in Massachusetts over the previous thirty-five years.
Christopher J. Armstrong was born in Springfield and raised in Westfield. He received a B.A. from Yale College and his LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1961. Prior to becoming a judge, he was a law clerk in the Superior Court. He lived a year in Nigeria under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Fellows-in-Africa Program. Upon his return, he served several months as Executive Clerk to Chief Justice G. Joseph Tauro; then, in roughly two-year intervals, as Assistant Legal Counsel under Governor John A. Volpe, Assistant Attorney General under then Massachusetts Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson, and as Chief Legal Counsel under Governor Francis W. Sargent. In 1970, Armstrong was named as one of “Boston’s Ten Outstanding Young Men” by the Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce. (The award did not become gender-neutral until 1985.) He was serving as Massachusetts Undersecretary of Administration when he was appointed to the new Appeals Court in 1972 by Governor Sargent.
Justice Armstrong was appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to be the first chairman of the Committee on Judicial Ethics, and served in that capacity for his maximum eligibility, ten years. He has also served as co-chair of the Administration of Justice Committee of the Boston Bar Association, and a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Task Force on the Causes of Wrongful Convictions. A member of the Massachusetts Bar association, he has served on the Editorial Board of the Massachusetts Law Review. He has been active in the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, which is affiliated with the National Center for State Courts. He has also engaged in a number of civic and charitable activities in Newburyport and Newbury, where he lives on a farm with his wife, Liz.