Record-Keeping Award

Published: 1:00 am Mon, June 9, 2008

By admin

When the Middlesex Superior Court moved from Cambridge to temporary digs in Woburn, clerks were told to throw out old case files that the court was no longer obligated to keep.

But longtime Clerk-Magistrate James J. Lynch III refused. “He said, ‘Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,’” recounts Boston attorney Douglas K. Sheff, who presented Lynch with an award at the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys’ annual dinner last month.

“The point isn’t that he kept some files around. It’s that he values fairness above all,” says Sheff. “That’s why people love Jimmy Lynch. He’s touched so many people over the years, including those who don’t realize it — like those who won’t have a lost document when they go look for it in two years.”

Sheff’s presentation noted that Lynch had initially wanted to become an accountant until his uncle, the late longtime Middlesex Clerk Edward J. Sullivan, gave him a job at the courthouse.

“He fell out of love with numbers and into love with the law,” says Sheff. “Thirty-eight years later, he still embodies the best aspects of the judicial system.”