Lawyers Journal

News from the Courts

SJC announces new hiring, promotion plan

The Supreme Judicial Court issued an action plan on Sept. 8 for the hiring and promotion of Trial Court administrative employees.

The SJC's Task Force for Hiring in the Judicial Branch, led by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, recommended the SJC redefine recruitment, hiring and promotion practices, establish an employee performance review system, conduct trainings for evaluators and interviewers and update mission statements and job competencies.

"We commend the dedicated efforts of the Task Force and the insightful blueprint it provides to reconfigure the hiring, evaluation and promotional systems of the Trial Court. Broadening the role and capacity of the human resources department will be a key priority of the new Office of Court Management headed by the Court Administrator," said SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "This report highlights that despite fiscal challenges we need to implement modern approaches that will allow us to recruit, retain, evaluate, and promote talented men and women who seek to serve in the judicial system."

"In these tight fiscal times when the courts have been forced to reduce hours and close courthouses, it is imperative that public confidence is maintained in the day-to-day operations of the courts. We look forward to the implementation of the many structural changes contained in the recent Court Reform Act passed by the Legislature and endorsed by the courts," MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy said.

"We also anticipate the upcoming hiring of a professional Trial Court administrator, which will greatly assist the justices in these daunting times and will help ensure that many of the personnel recommendations contained in the Harshbarger Task Force Report are swiftly adopted," Healy said.

The MBA's 1976 Res Gestae, independently commissioned 1991 Harbridge House Report and 2003 Court Reform Study have urged a number of judicial reforms, including the hiring of a civilian, non-judicial court administrator to manage the business operations of the Trial Court.

Massachusetts courts adjust office hours for clerks, registers

Thirty-eight Massachusetts courts, facing case backlogs and staff shortages, adjusted the hours of clerks and registers offices as of Sept. 19 in order to reduce processing delays. The scheduling of court sessions will not be affected by the changes in office hours and access will be available for emergency matters.

"Our severe staffing reductions require an adjustment in some public office hours so that employees can more effectively serve those who depend on the courts," said Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan. "Court staff have made remarkable efforts to deliver timely justice during three years of significant budget and staff cuts. However, almost one third of courts now need some uninterrupted time to address backlogs and reduce delays, as already done by courts in other states."

This reduction in counter and telephone hours will provide uninterrupted time for staff to prepare cases for court sessions and execute court orders, as well as to complete filing, docketing, scanning and other case processing.

To view the changes, go to www.mass.gov/courts/court-hour-change.html.

Housing Court forms available in PDF

The Housing Court has converted its forms to fillable PDF format, to assist litigants and attorneys in preparing forms for court use. Forms can now be completed online and then printed for filing.

For more information, go to www.mass.gov/courts.

To review Massachusetts court guidelines and reports, go to www.mass.gov/courts

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association