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Baker nominates Byrnes for Westfield Court Clerk Magistrate


BOSTON – Atty. Nathan A. Byrnes was nominated by Gov. Charlie Baker to the position of Clerk Magistrate of the Westfield District Court.

Byrnes, of Westfield, has served as acting magistrate since September of 2017 and was previously the first assistant clerk since 2005.

Byrnes said this week that he was looking forward to approval from the Governor’s Council, which meets Oct. 2.

“I am excited for the opportunity and grateful the governor has faith in me to do the job,” Byrnes said this week.

Byrnes applauded the Westfield District Court staff and the clerk’s office staff in particular.

“They are the best in the state,” he said.

Baker touted Byrnes’ 21 years of experience as an attorney and his work at Westfield District Court.

“Attorney Byrnes’s understanding of legal proceedings from his experience as First Assistant and Acting Clerk Magistrate will allow him to serve effectively in the Westfield District Court,” said Baker. “I am pleased to submit his name to Governor’s Council for their advice and consent.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito concurred.

“As an experienced attorney who has been both an advocate and an administrator in the court, I am confident that this qualified nominee will bring knowledge and wisdom to the Westfield District Court,” said Polito. “If confirmed, I am confident he will serve all parties before him fairly.”

The process to become clerk magistrate takes several years.

“It’s a long vetting process,” said Byrnes. “It starts with the Joint Bar Committee, then the governor’s office and finally the Governor’s Council. It’s the same process to become a judge.”

Byrnes hears a variety of cases himself, including motor vehicle violations and small claims trials.

“I am responsible for the daily operations of the court,” he said.

Byrnes said there is always a variety of cases that come through Westfield, and while the number of criminal cases has slightly declined, Section 35 cases are continuing to rise.

“That’s when a family member believes someone is in imminent danger to themselves or someone else because of substance abuse,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes said the opioid epidemic has contributed to the increase in Section 35 requests. He also said Westfield has “an active police department” and brings forward many arrests, show-cause hearings and motor vehicle violations.

The District Court hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health, and other types of cases. District Court criminal jurisdiction extends to all felonies punishable by a sentence up to five years, and many other specific felonies with greater potential penalties; all misdemeanors; and all violations of city and town ordinances and by-laws.

Prior to his work in the Westfield District Court, Byrnes held his own private practice focusing on criminal defense, real estate and civil litigation and probate and divorce proceedings. As a private attorney, he represented clients in the District, Superior and Probate Courts. From 1998 to 2004, he was Associate Attorney in the office of Ross & Ross, P.C. in Springfield focusing on criminal defense, real estate and personal injury law.

Byrnes is a 1990 graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Westfield and earned his B.A. in Criminal Justice from Stonehill College in 1994 and his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law in 1998.

He lives in Westfield with his wife Sheila and his two children, Shea and Riley.

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