The Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association
hosted a Court Advocacy Day at the Statehouse on Feb. 14 to urge
our legislators to preserve the rule of law in Massachusetts by
supporting the Massachusetts Trial Court's budget request for
fiscal year 2014.
The Trial Court has asked for $589.5 million to maintain quality
justice for Massachusetts citizens. This funding is needed to
address critical operating needs and stabilize the court system
which has seen devastating cuts in recent years.
"The MBA has been and will be a strong supporter of adequate
funding for our state's third branch of government," MBA President
Robert L. Holloway Jr. said. "Our message to the Legislature is
clear and simple -- supporting the court's maintenance request of
589.5 million dollars in funding for fiscal year 2014 is essential,
it is not a luxury, to provide basic services to the public and
preserve access to justice for everyone in this commonwealth."
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland said 22
percent of the commonwealth's workforce reduction came from the
judiciary despite having only nine percent of Massachusetts's state
"The judiciary branch has suffered a disproportionate share of
hardship," Ireland said. "That has had a dramatic impact on our
ability to deliver timely justice."
Ireland also called on the Legislature to support a judicial
salary increase. Massachusetts judges are ranked 48th in the nation
for salaries when cost of living is adjusted, and have had no
increase for the past seven years. "It is a matter of basic
fairness and equity," Ireland said.
Employees of the Massachusetts Trial Court have continued to do
exemplary work in spite of the budget constraints and workforce
reductions, and they should be commended, said Chief Justice for
Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan.
Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence said the full $589.5
million in funding is necessary.
"We're struggling to sustain the belief in the rule of law in
this society," Spence said.