Leaders of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Bar
Association and Trial Court coordinated an informational meeting
with Essex County legislators at the Salem District Court on
Monday, Jan. 7. The gathering was an opportunity to depict the
local impact experienced from court funding cuts.
Following introductory remarks from bar leaders and Trial Court
Administrator Harry Spence, clerks, judges and others based in the
Salem courthouse spoke to the reality of understaffed
MBA President Robert L. Holloway Jr. and BBA President James D.
Smeallie spoke to the need for adequate funding of the courts, as
the third branch of government. "The MBA and BBA have been working
mightily to make sure that happens," said Holloway.
Spence described the court staffing of 6,300 personnel as
"simply not enough" given the workload. That theme was reinforced
by other court leaders who shared their perspective. Salem District
Court Clerk Brian Lawlor said, "The wave is continually coming in
and there hasn't been much relief … good times will hopefully be
Spence noted the further delays experienced due to pro se
litigants. "A confused self-represented litigant is a delay in the
process," he said. In an attempt to ease such delays, Spence
announced the roll out of court service centers, a pilot initiative
to better address the needs of pro se litigants.
Spence ended the speaking portion of the gathering by thanking
the attending legislators for their work on appropriating FY13
funds to the court, explaining that because of their support, the
courts will not have to reinforce the years-long hiring freeze.
Legislators in attendance at the meeting included
Representatives John D. Keenan (D-Salem), Lori A. Ehrlich
(D-Marblehead), Theodore C. Speliotis (D-Danvers), Jerald A.
Parisella (D-Beverly) and Senators Kathleen O'Connor Ives
(D-Newburyport) and Joan Lovely (D-Salem).