One Last Thing: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Towering Seat of Power

The new session of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which begins 9/2, marks the last for Westfield native Justice John Greaney, who has announced he’ll be retiring from the bench in December after almost two decades. His departure means a rare seat on the nation’s oldest continuously running appellate court will be up for grabs. And what a seat it is: one of seven identical oak-trimmed thrones on which the justices perch as they preside over some 200 civil and criminal appeals each year. In use for more than 70 years, the chairs are still gleaming from their 2004 makeover by Needham-based furniture restorer Wayne Towle, which saw the ancient blue leather upholstery replaced by sleek black Naugahyde. Filling the empty one with a new justice in a few months will be a tall order. After all, these regal beauties stand nearly 5 feet high themselves.