The Trial Court Department will receive $20 million in
additional funding for fiscal 2012 after Gov. Deval Patrick signed
a $480 million supplemental budget appropriation Oct. 27.
"The supplemental funding for the Trial Court is desperately
needed, as the judicial branch continues to grapple with the
effects of sustained budget cuts and enormous staff reductions over
the past few years," said Martin W. Healy, the chief legal counsel
and chief operating officer for the Massachusetts Bar
The MBA considers adequate court funding a priority and continues
to be a strong advocate for the courts.
The supplemental budget includes $350 million for the state's
"rainy day" reserve account and $65 million in local aid for cities
and towns. Specifically, the courts will receive $12 million in
direct funds and $8 million in retained revenue from fee
When the state's fiscal 2012 budget was signed by Patrick in July,
judicial leaders decried the Trial Court's $519.9 million budget -
$24.2 million lower than last year's and down from $605 million in
fiscal 2009 - saying it would require "devastating" layoffs and
courthouse closings that would jeopardize "the quality of justice
in our courts."
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland thanked
Patrick for approving the additional funds in an Oct. 27 letter
while noting that the courts are still under severe stress after
yearly budget reductions.
"While this still leaves our Trial Court in dire fiscal straits,"
Ireland wrote, "it alleviates a 'worst case scenario' that we had
anticipated … ."
Funding for the courts has been reduced nearly 16 percent, or $96
million, since the beginning of fiscal 2009. A hiring freeze -
which was enacted in response to the recession - and attrition have
accounted for the loss of more than 1,100 positions since
After the budget was approved in July, the SJC asked Patrick not
to appoint any new judges or clerk magistrates this fiscal year
because every appointment would require laying off three other
court employees. In response to the additional $20 million, Ireland
wrote in the Oct. 27 letter that the SJC was withdrawing its
request for a moratorium on appointments, and praised Patrick and
his administration for their
"We also appreciate the willingness by you and your Legal Counsel
to communicate with the judiciary so that we could work together to
prioritize your appointments to best assist those courts in
greatest need of judges and clerk magistrates," Ireland
Judicial leaders had also noted in July that the $519.9 million
budget was actually lower because it included unobtainable
projections for revenue collection through court fees. The
supplemental budget's additional $8 million in retained revenue
will help address that concern.
The supplemental budget also contains an outside section, which
mandates that any proposed court closures or reductions in sessions
must be approved by the soon-to-be appointed Trial Court
administrator and submitted to the Legislature 90 days before they
Acting on recommendations of the court-appointed Court Relocation
Committee, Mulligan filed a statutorily required report on court
relocations with the Legislature on Aug. 10, which can be found at