JAMAICA HILLS—Jamaica Plain resident Richard Iannella resigned as Register of the Suffolk Probate and Family Court early last month, four years before his term was due to expire and almost 15 years after first being elected. Iannella is best known for being part of a prominent Jamaica Plain and Boston political family and for streamlining registry operations in order to better serve the public.
“I’m looking for new challenges in life. I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful experience working in the public sector, but it’s time to explore other avenues,” he told the Gazette in a phone interview last week.
His last day at the Probate Court will be March 31, he said, adding that he will be “happy to help whomever the governor chooses” to replace him. “I am happy to volunteer in any capacity,” Iannella said.
The probate court handles divorces, estates, name changes, custody cases and other common concerns people have in their lives.
Iannella said he plans to go to work for his brother Chris, a lawyer, saying that his plans for April 1 are “no different than today—get up and go to work.”
Iannella is responsible for streamlining the probate court and making it more user-friendly for more than half the users of the probate court—those who do not employ a lawyer.
He was the force behind the development of self-help pamphlets, the opening of the Addington Resource Center—the first do-it-yourself probate center in the Commonwealth—in 2000, and the online accessibility of many of the documents available there.
Iannella also organized community outreach efforts including neighborhood meetings and expanded the “Lawyer for the Day” program.
He had court users place required legal notices in neighborhood newspapers instead of big daily newspapers, thus saving them money and providing support for the papers and targeted outreach for the notices.
Iannella was first elected Register of Probate for Suffolk County in 1996, and has been re-elected every six years since. Before that post, he served as a City Councillor starting in 1993 before being re-elected in 1995. He resigned his City Council seat to assume the county post, even though he was not legally required to do so. He once served as the head of Code Enforcement for the city.
“[Public service] is in my blood,” Iannella said. His family has been in public service for 60 years, he added. His father, Christopher A. Iannella, served in the Massachusetts legislature four times and was a longtime member of the Boston City Council, serving as president of that body longer than any other person.
Christopher A. Iannella, Jr., Richard’s brother, is a practicing personal injury lawyer and is an elected member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council. One of Iannella’s sisters, Suzanne Iannella, serves as one of three Commissioners of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.