Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009
From top to bottom:
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall accepts the MBA's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award, presented to her for her accomplishments over the past decade as leader of the state's judicial branch.
From left to right: MBA Vice President Richard P. Campbell, MBA President-Elect Denise Squillante, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, Hon. A. Paul Cellucci, MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus, Chief Justice of Utah's Supreme Court Christine M. Durham, MBA Treasurer Robert L. Holloway Jr.
MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus (right) presents Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall with the Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award.
From left to right: Hon. A. Paul Cellucci, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, MBA Acting Executive Director and General Counsel Martin W. Healy.
Photos by Christine Peterson.
Chief Justice Marshall warns more budget cuts will put justice “in jeopardy”
Deepening financial crisis leaves Trial Court Department in “a moment of peril”
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
delivered a dire warning in her 10th Annual Address to the Legal
Community: "Justice is in jeopardy in Massachusetts," she told
nearly 200 people at the John Adams Courthouse on Oct. 21.
Marshall, who was recognized with the Massachusetts Bar
Association's Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award on her tenth
anniversary as chief justice, used the annual speech to convey how
serious the situation is, rather than chart how much progress the
courts have made, as she has done in past years.
"By year's end, Trial Court staffing levels will be slightly more
than two-thirds of the appropriate - the necessary - levels
identified for us by an independent, objective model developed by
the National Center for State Courts, the nation's expert on that
subject," she said.
Several district courts have been relocated, she noted, and leases
for rented spaces have been terminated. "The closure of court
sessions, the closure of more courthouses, is inevitable -
inevitable - if the already decimated Trial Court budget is further
reduced," she said.
Marshall expressed frustration that the courts have been hit
harder than other departments of state government.
"The judicial branch is being asked to absorb a disproportionate
amount of the necessary reductions in government spending," she
said, noting that the judicial branch accounts for just 2.1 percent
of state spending. The court department has reduced its workforce
7.5 percent, she said, greater than other departments.
"Are we now prepared to tell a woman who seeks a protective order
for herself and her children to come back next week because budget
cuts have forced the court to close for a day or more?
State leaders are saying the situation is even worse than they'd
anticipated a year ago, and more cuts will be needed.
"Here is the truly dismal news: the bleeding has just begun,"
Marshall told the audience. "The budgetary forecasts for fiscal
year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 presage more fiscal pain. Who will
bear the brunt of this pain? Everyone who seeks access to our
"I do not point fingers," she said. "As chief justice, however,
as one who has labored long and hard to bring lasting
reform to the administration of justice in the commonwealth, and to
broaden access to justice, as one who is passionate about the
importance of courts to a free people, I cannot, I shall not,
ignore that our courts are at a moment of peril."
She concluded by urging lawyers and court staff to speak up and
contact the Legislature and governor.
For more information on the MBA's Fourth Annual Bench-Bar
Symposium and additional information about Marshall's award, look
in the November Lawyers Journal.