Chief Justice Mulligan honored by national organization

Issue November 2008 By Bill Archambeault

The National Center for State Courts has honored Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan with its 2008 Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented prior to Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall’s “Annual Address to the Legal Community,” held at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

An independent, nonprofit organization based in Williamsburg, Va., NCSC’s mission is to improve court operations. NCSC President Mary McQueen presented the award to Mulligan, recognizing his “impressive abilities, not only as a jurist, but as an innovative court manager” and “for establishing a record of dedication to the justice system and working diligently to improve the public’s confidence in the courts.”

McQueen praised Mulligan’s work in steering the Massachusetts Trial Courts toward national prominence through the implementation of the Monan Report. When it was issued nearly six years ago, it noted numerous failings in the state’s court system and urged widespread changes.
Since then, Mulligan has overseen changes that have reorganized staffing models, established strict time standards, improved case management, introduced professional development for judges and integrated a new, comprehensive computer system.

“He has established a standard that others aspire to,” McQueen said.

Mulligan credited Marshall with embracing the Monan Commission’s undertaking and for embracing the substantive changes called for in the report.

“I think we’ve made progress in implementing the Monan Report’s recommendations,” said Mulligan, who shared the credit for the award with the chief justices of the Trial Court Department.
“They do all the hard work in implementing the recommendations of the Monan Report,” he said.
He also shared acceptance of the award on behalf of the Trial Court Department’s 7,400 employees.

“Any progress we’ve made in implementing the recommendations of the Monan Report is directly attributable to the hard work of those employees,” he said.

During her “Annual Address, Marshall praised Mulligan’s commitment to enacting court reform while doing so under tremendous pressure — and occasional criticism.

“He has toiled punishing hours in the glare of public scrutiny,” she said. “And he elected to continue his arduous assignment when someone less dedicated might gladly have relinquished it. Chief Justice Mulligan’s appointment to another five-year term at the helm of the Trial Court Department assures a steady hand through this financial crisis, and an unbroken journey on the path to excellence in judicial administration.

“We know of his exemplary service to our courts. So does the rest of the nation,” Marshall said, referring to the award. “Well deserved. Thank you, Chief Justice Mulligan.”