|By Rick Winterson
Maura (Sweeney) Doyle was born at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and spent her younger years in Winthrop. Her father, John Sweeney, passed away earlier this year; her mother, Lillian Donovan Sweeney, is still alert and healthy at 92. She’s the youngest of four children, who comprise her sister, Jane Carideo, and her two brothers, Mark and John.
Early on, Doyle developed an affection for South Boston. Rita Donovan, her aunt on her mother’s side, married Paul Day from here. He was a member of the Boston Harbor Yacht Club, and he would sail to Winthrop to bring young Maura Doyle back across the harbor for a visit.
In many respects, Doyle’s upbringing could be called “conventional”, but it must be remembered that this kind of upbringing includes bedrock principles such as devotion to one’s family and church, as well a desire for a good education.
Doyle went to grammar school at St. John’s, and then graduated from Pope John XXIII High. She got her Associate’s degree as a Legal Secretary from Aquinas College, and went on to obtain a B.S. degree (cum laude) in Criminal Justice from Northeastern. After working for Maurice Tobin as a paralegal in Lynn for a year, she enrolled in the Law School at Suffolk University, earning her J.D. and becoming an attorney in 1981.
Over the next ten years, she practiced as a trial lawyer, specializing in complex civil litigation. Among the issues she dealt with were faulty brake assemblies on motor vehicles and the controversies surrounding breast implants. During this time, she also served two years as an Adjunct Law Professor at Suffolk.
When she and Frank Doyle married, he was working for Ray Flynn, so they invested in a three-decker in Neponset to satisfy the residency requirements. Dorchester has been their home ever since. Frank Doyle also served as Flynn’s Vatican attaché in 1993-94.
Maura Doyle joined public life as an Assistant Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court (Suffolk) in 1992. In 1996, she was unanimously appointed Clerk of that Court, replacing Richard Rouse, who had been appointed Sheriff. In 1998, she was elected to complete his term, and was re-elected in her own right in 2000. Doyle thus became the first female to be elected to a county-wide office in Suffolk As you probably know, she is currently campaigning again for re-election as Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court.
The Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County is laden with history. At 314 years in existence, it is the oldest, continuously functioning court in the entire hemisphere. It was created in response to the excesses of the oyer and terminer court during the witch trials in Salem Village back in 1692. In certain matters, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County exercises statewide jurisdiction. This stems from the time when officials from other county courts traveled for days on end to courthouses across Massachusetts, leaving the personnel from Suffolk to fill in during their absences.
Frank and Maura Doyle have three children – Frank, Jr. (20), a sophomore at B.U. on a Medeiros Scholarship; Jacqueline (16), a sophomore at Notre Dame in Hingham and a dancer and dance teacher; and Matthew (12), a seventh-grader at the renowned St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge. The Doyles’ extended family includes a golden retriever named Rusty.
The Doyles now live on Milton Street in Dorchester, right behind St. Brendan’s Church and School. They are active in girls’ softball and youth soccer. They are marriage preparation team members, who present pre-Cana conferences, both in St. Brendan’s and at the Holy Cross Fathers’ Retreat House. Maura Doyle also served in the South Boston Citizens’ Association for ten years, where she became the Chair of Historic Exercises.
In their small amount of spare time, the Doyles are moviegoers, with both the Harry Potter series and “Lord of the Rings” high on their list of favorites. Maura Doyle is also an avid sports fan. When asked about the Sox, she mumbled something like, “Further deponent sayeth not”. But football season is at hand. After the Pats, she likes the Titans of Tennessee, but disses the Steelers without a second thought.
When asked about her impressions of South Boston these days, she says, “I really respect the women here. They’re smart, active, and devoted to the South Boston community.”