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News from the Courts

SJC task force issues hiring and promotion action plan

A Supreme Judicial Court task force has issued a plan for improving the Trial Court's hiring and promotion procedures that can be put in place once its hiring freeze is ended.

The Court has reviewed the Nov. 8 report - "Action Plan for Hiring and Promotion of Employees of the Trial Court Recorder, Clerks and Registers of Probate" - which is the fifth in a series of comprehensive reviews exploring a different part of the court system. The SJC's Task Force for Hiring in the Judicial Branch is chaired by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

Court officials said the action plan reinforces the core principles and best practices approach outlined in the prior reports, including emphasis on the need for the Trial Court's Human Resources Department to have an enlarged role in recruitment, hiring, promotion, training and performance evaluation of court employees.

The task force recommends that the clerks, registers and the recorder, who are the appointing authorities for their offices, continue to make the final decisions on the applicants hired to work in their offices, but underscores that each applicant should meet common, statewide minimum qualifications for various positions and participate in standard Trial Court employee training programs and evaluations.

Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan established a 21-member committee, chaired by Juvenile Court Chief Justice Michael F. Edgerton, to undertake a thorough review of the Trial Court's Personnel Policies and Procedures. The committee will follow the recommendations set forth in the SJC Task Force reports to enhance the role of the Human Resources Department so that, when the Trial Court hiring freeze is lifted, it will be prepared to provide effective oversight of the hiring and promotion of employees and perform other expanded HR duties.

"This critical effort will ensure our effective implementation of the recommendations on merit-based hiring and promotion provided in the series of excellent reports submitted by the SJC Task Force on Hiring," Mulligan said.

"We will continue to implement the Task Force recommendations to bolster public confidence in the way that court employees are recruited, promoted and trained," said SJC Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. "I commend the Task Force members for their diligent, thoughtful work."

The SJC Task Force will prepare a final report to the Court and will continue to monitor the transformation of hiring and promotion practices in the Probation Department.

The report can be found at www.mass.gov/courts/press/prguide.html under the Nov. 17 listing.

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