No joke; Justice Dalianis is retiring

Longtime Nashua resident who broke glass ceiling plans to retire April 1

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup State Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis addresses members of the Nashua Bar Association Wednesday night, where she received the group's Lifetime Achievement Award and announced her upcoming retirement.

NASHUA – State Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda S. Dalianis’s next birthday could very well be her least favorite of all.

“Because,” she said by way of explanation, “I’m told by the New Hampshire Constitution that when you turn 70, you can’t be a judge anymore,” the longtime Nashua resident told about 200 members and guests of the Nashua Bar Association Wednesday night at Nashua’s Crowne Plaza hotel.

Thus Dalianis, whose judicial career not only spanned nearly four decades, but featured a series of history-making firsts beginning with her appointment to the Superior Court bench some 37 years ago, made official her plans to retire effective April 1.

Dalianis broke the news at a Bar Association dinner program at which she was honored as the association’s 2017 recipient of its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Having notified Gov. Chris Sununu of her plans, and breaking it to her Supreme Court staff at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dalianis said she wanted her hometown colleagues to be the next to hear the news.

“I started here. This is my home,” Dalianis said, her emotions overflowing. “And this,” she continued upon collecting herself, “is where my career should come to a close.”

Several colleagues, including retired Superior Court Judges Bernard Hampsey and Walter Murphy, addressed the gathering, alternating between roast-style humor and words of praise and admiration for their longtime colleague.

“This is a bittersweet time for me,” Dalianis told her audience. “If the New Hampshire Constitution did not force me to leave, I probably would not … I do not look forward to leaving the judicial branch behind.”

Before Bar Association president Andrew Prolman presented the award, Dalianis said she chose April 1 for a reason. “It seems right,” she said. “Because I’ve always striven to not take myself too seriously.”

As for her plans post-retirement?

“I’m going to become a court-watcher,” she said, narrowing her gaze and scanning the room. “Like the little old ladies in tennis shoes,” she added to laughter.

“I’m going to go to trials … and I’m going to take notes.”

Tops on her priority list, however, is enjoying something she said she hasn’t been able to enjoy since she was a teenage camp counselor.

“I would like to be responsible for nobody else but myself,” she said slowly, and deliberately, drawing a round of applause.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or @Telegraph_DeanS.