News from the courts

Issue December 2009

The Concord Session of the Probate and Family Court will close Jan. 1, 2010, due to the budget crisis and the shortage of staff to run the sessions in Concord.

The Probate and Family Court announced that the suspension of sessions in Concord is expected to be temporary and will work to open the session when it has sufficient staff.

In a release, the court announced: "We carefully listened to the valid concerns expressed by the bar, both at our recent meeting and by e-mail; however, our circumstances make it extraordinarily difficult to continue to deliver justice in one location in Middlesex County, let alone four locations."

Over the last couple of months, the Middlesex Probate and Family Court lost 10 people to voluntary retirements and layoffs.

At this time, the Marlboro and Lowell sessions will continue to operate. The Cambridge Probate and Family Court will attempt to accommodate those traveling long distances in the Cambridge, Marlboro and Lowell sessions. Additionally, the current policy of uncontested cases being heard by any judge, independent of the individual calendar system, will continue in Marlboro, provided prior arrangements are made.

New John Adams exhibit opens in Adams Courthouse

A new exhibit, "John Adams: Architect of American Government," recently opened to the public in the John Adams Courthouse. Using text, images and audio, it describes the essential role that John Adams played in the development of our constitutional form of government in Massachusetts and the United States.

Located in one of two exhibit rooms in the Great Hall on the first floor of the courthouse, the exhibit is free and open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It is only fitting that the courthouse honoring the legacy of John Adams have a room dedicated to showcasing his significant role in shaping our three branches of government. We welcome teachers and students, and people of all ages, to visit this wonderful new exhibit to learn how the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 was formed and inspired the U.S. Constitution," said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

The John Adams exhibit was created by SJC Senior Attorney Barbara Berenson. Social Law Library Art Director/Graphic Designer Carole Doody did the design and collaborated with Berenson. The second exhibit room houses "Sacco and Vanzetti: Justice on Trial," which Berenson and Doody also created.

Superior Court Chief Justice Rouse reappointed

Superior Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse has been reappointed for a five-year term by Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan. Rouse was named chief justice in 2004 and has served on the Superior Court since 1985.

"Under her dedicated and energetic leadership, the Superior Court has achieved impressive results in reforming criminal and civil case management. She has engaged judges, clerks, district attorneys and the bar in introducing a wide range of operational improvements and performance-based measurements," Mulligan said.

"Chief Justice Rouse's dynamic vision for the commemoration of the Superior Court's 150th Anniversary has created a renewed spirit of commitment and cooperation within the court and in communities across the state," he added. "This occasion was used to build and enhance the reputation of the judiciary and the Superior Court at a critical time in expanding public understanding and support for the court system."

Mulligan said Rouse received strong support from judges, attorneys and others in the legal community. She has received numerous honors, including the Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service from the Boston Bar Association.

"Any success the Superior Court has enjoyed over the last five years has been due to the terrific efforts of the judges, clerks, probation and all court personnel," Rouse said. "I greatly value their daily commitment and dedication to ensuring the delivery of justice across the state, particularly in these challenging fiscal times."

The Superior Court Department comprises 14 divisions with 82 authorized judicial positions across the state. The Massachusetts Trial Court includes seven court departments with 379 judges in 103 courthouses across the state.

Appeals Court justices appoint Stanton clerk

The justices of the Massachusetts Appeals Court have appointed attorney Joseph Stanton of Braintree as clerk of the Appeals Court, the fourth person to hold that position since the court was established in 1972.

A graduate of Boston College and New England School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review, Stanton has served as chief law clerk to the justices of the Superior Court, as a staff attorney in the Supreme Judicial Court, as an associate at the Boston law firm of Sloane and Walsh, and, since 1999, as an assistant clerk in the Appeals Court. He also serves as reporter to the Supreme Judicial Court's Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law, providing research, writing and editorial assistance for the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence.

Appeals Court Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza said of Stanton: "In his capacity as assistant clerk for over a decade, he has demonstrated both the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to maintain the high level of service that the justices, the public and the bar have come to expect from that office. He has my complete confidence in his new role and I look forward to working with him, particularly during these fiscally challenging times."

On Nov. 2, Stanton succeeded Ashley Ahearn, who retired Oct. 31 after serving as clerk for 12 years.