Budd discusses leadership changes, strategic goals during State of the Judiciary Address

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023
Article Picture
Top: From left: Court Administrator Thomas G. Ambrosino, Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey A. Locke, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd and MBA President Damian J. Turco.

Middle: MBA President Damian J. Turco speaks during the 2023 State of the Judiciary Address.

Bottom: MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy with Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd.

In her Annual State of the Judiciary Address on Tuesday, Dec. 12, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd discussed changes to senior leadership within the court system and outlined the overall vision of the organization going forward. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association, the event was presented as a live webcast from the John Adams Courthouse in Boston and featured a panel discussion moderated by MBA President Damian J. Turco.

To begin her speech, Budd noted the impending retirements of Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey A. Locke and SJC Justices David A. Lowy and Elspeth B. Cypher, while praising them for their dedicated service to the judiciary. Budd also acknowledged Locke’s successor, current Superior Court Chief Justice Heidi E. Brieger; new Probation Commissioner Pamerson O. Ifill, who replaced the recently retired Edward J. Dolan; and incoming Reporter of Decisions Maddie Makara, who will take over for Brian Redmond. In addition, Budd touted the recent hiring of Dr. Natoschia Scruggs as chief access, diversity, and fairness officer, along with the work of Court Administrator Thomas G. Ambrosino nearly one year into his tenure. 

Although the judiciary has seen considerable turnover in key administrative functions, Budd said that the quality of candidates who emerged from those searches bodes well for the future direction of the court system.

“Our success in recruiting such talented and experienced leaders to fill these positions gives me great confidence that we will be able to find similarly strong candidates for the additional upcoming openings that remain to be filled,” Budd said.

In a brief overview of the courts’ current strategic priorities, Budd highlighted ongoing efforts to create a more efficient and technologically advanced court system, and to improve its ease of use for lawyers and litigants. She added that the courts are focused on becoming more attentive and responsive to the underlying issues affecting their cases, and on achieving continued progress in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Prior to Budd’s remarks, Turco opened the event by stressing the importance of a strong partnership between the MBA and the judiciary, noting their successful collaboration on several initiatives in recent years. In particular, he cited the MBA’s recent launch of a statewide Lawyer for the Day program developed in consultation with the Superior Court, along with the 2022 passage of a $165 million bond bill to upgrade the courts’ technology infrastructure. He added that both efforts demonstrate the organizations’ shared interest in closing the justice gap, which is one of his primary goals as MBA president.

“It is no surprise that many of the advances we’ve seen in our court system have come about as a result of concerted efforts between bar and judicial leaders,” Turco said.

Following the speaking portion of the program, Turco led a question-and-answer session featuring Budd, Locke and Ambrosino. The court officials responded to questions from members of the bar on topics ranging from the SJC’s new standards on substance use conditions and mental health disorders, to the status of case backlogs in the court system, to the impact of changes in court leadership.

The 2023 State of the Judiciary Address is available to view here.