Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009
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News from the Courts

Special advisor will oversee courts’ access to justice initiatives; CMAB report commends courts’ continuing progress; Hon. Lynda M. Connolly reappointed District Court chief justice; U.S. Court of Appeals proposes amendments to Local Rule 46.0(F)

Special advisor will oversee courts' access to justice initiatives

Judge FeinHousing Court Judge Dina Fein has been appointed to lead a new effort to improve access to civil justice for all litigants in state courts, including self-represented litigants, individuals of modest means, those of limited or no English proficiency, and individuals with mental or physical disabilities.

Fein will serve as special advisor for access to justice initiatives to "guide and coordinate" resources within the state's Trial Court Department beginning Monday, June 15. Fein, currently the first justice of the Housing Court, Western Division, will sit part time. SJC Senior Staff Attorney Sandra Lundy will serve as deputy advisor in addition to her current role.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan announced the appointment "in recognition of the critical role of the judicial branch during a challenging economy when data confirm that more people seek recourse from the courts."

Fein, who will report to Mulligan, will work closely with judges, court personnel, the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, bar associations, legal service organizations, law firms, law schools and others to implement access to justice initiatives. "Insuring that the promise of justice is accessible to all is a core responsibility of the judicial branch," she said.


CMAB report commends courts' continuing progress

The Court Management Advisory Board recognized the "continuing progress" made by the Trial Court Department since sweeping reforms were ushered in by the Monan Report.

CMAB, which this week released its annual report evaluating the Trial Courts' ongoing implementation of court reforms, "commends Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan, his leadership team, and the Trial Court judges, clerks and staff for their tremendous dedication to the initiatives undertaken during 2008," including the:

  • Third year of Court Metrics;
  • Steady and successful rollout of MassCourts;
  • Implementation of the Access and Fairness Survey Project across the system; and
  • Piloting of the Case File Integrity Project.
The report, available at, also noted that the collection of important data is allowing the courts to improve its planning and decision-making: "The value of the data will continue to enable more effective strategic planning, as the court system addresses the major fiscal issues confronting the state in FY10 and FY11."


Hon. Lynda M. Connolly reappointed District Court chief justice

Hon. Lynda M. Connolly District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly has been reappointed to a five-year term, Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan announced this week. Connolly was named chief justice in 2004 and has served the District Court since 1997.

"As chief justice, she has demonstrated significant energy and vision in the implementation of many management reforms, using performance-based measures to improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of the court," Mulligan said.

In addition to leading the largest Trial Court department, which comprises 62 Divisions, 158 judges and more than 1,000 staff, Connolly also co-chairs the Trial Court Fiscal Task Force. Mulligan noted that she has received strong support from judges and attorneys in the District Court and received numerous honors, including the Daniel J. Toomey Judicial Excellence Award recently presented by the Massachusetts Bar Association and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

With more than 800,000 cases field in the District Court department each year, Connolly credited the collaborative effort by judges, clerks, probation officers, support staff, security and maintenance personnel "in putting a face on justice for the people seeking justice in over 800,000 cases filed in the District Courts each year."

U.S. Court of Appeals proposes amendments to Local Rule 46.0(F)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit proposes amendments to Local Rule 46.0(f), the Standing Rule Governing Appearance and Argument by Eligible Law Students. The amendments would slightly modify the requirements for law students appearing for, or arguing on behalf of, an indigent person.

To read the proposed changes and respond, click here. Public comments on the proposed amendments must be received by Thursday, July 9.
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