Paul J. Liacos (CAS'50, LAW'52, Hon.'96), former BU School of Law professor and former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, died April 29 at Massachusetts General Hospital. The native of Peabody, Mass., was 69.
Appointed to the court as an associate justice in 1976 and as chief justice in 1989, Liacos strove to alleviate prison crowding, worked to improve conditions in neglected courthouses, and advocated court reform. During his tenure, the court ruled that the state constitution prohibits the death penalty, provided greater protection for a woman's right to an abortion, and gave defendants increased protection against search and seizure.
In 1996, then-BU President John Silber, in presenting him with an honorary doctor of laws degree, said, "In addition to the contributions of your life in the law, you have been a generous and thoughtful participant in public affairs, with commitments to educational institutions from both banks of the Charles to the shores of the Aegean."
A trustee of the Chamberlayn School, of Anatolia College in Salonika, Greece, and of Suffolk University, Liacos was also a member of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Last year, only two years into retirement, he accepted appointment to the State Ethics Commission, where his expertise will be hard to replace," wrote the Boston Globe in a May 1 editorial.
Addressing LAW graduates in a 1990 convocation ceremony, Liacos quoted Plato: "The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life." He added, "If I have achieved anything, it is because of my education at Boston University."
He leaves his wife, Maureen (McKean); three sons, James, Mark, and Gregory; a daughter, Diana; a sister, Katherine Liacos Izzo; and five grandchildren.