Massachusetts Drug Lab

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants listens during a hearing to determine if the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court should vacate the cases of about 20,000 defendants that could have been wrongfully convicted based on evidence tainted by former state chemist Annie Dookhan, Wednesday, Nov.16, 2016, in Boston. (Angela Rowlings/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)

BOSTON (AP) — Chief Justice Ralph Gants of Massachusetts' highest court has died more than a week after he suffered a heart attack, the court said Monday.

The associate justices of the Supreme Judicial Court announced Gants' death in emailed statement. He was 65.

“Our hearts and prayers are with his family. We have no further information at this time,” the justices said.

Gants disclosed last week that he suffered a heart attack on Sept. 4 and underwent surgery to insert two stents in an occluded artery. The chief justice had said that he expected to be discharged soon and "to resume full duties, albeit initially on a limited basis.”

Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel of Massachusetts' public defender agency, called Gants' death a “devastating loss to the court, the legal system and the commonwealth.”

“Chief Justice Gants was a wonderful person who treated everyone with respect and dignity,” said Benedetti of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. “He was a brilliant, thoughtful jurist who was fair to every litigant who appeared before him.”

The New Rochelle, New York, native was appointed as an associate justice of the court in 2009 and was sworn in as the chief justice by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014.

Before that, he served for more than a decade on the Massachusetts Superior Court. He also worked as a federal prosecutor and was chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts before going into private practice.

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