News from the Courts

Issue July/August 2009

Federal courts

U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit announces attorney admission form

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which is located at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, announced that it has instituted an attorney admission form to comply with a recent policy adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The application for attorneys seeking admission to the bar of the First Circuit Court of Appeals will cost $200 and is effective immediately, the court announced June 19. The policy was approved, in part, to gain "sufficient information to allow the court to verify the state bar admission status of an applicant.

Massachusetts courts

Attleboro District Court reopened July 27; jury trials relocated

The Attleboro District Court and Juvenile Court resumed operations on July 27 at its North Main Street location after a May 18 fire closed the court for more than two months. A fire restoration company cleaned and sealed off the damaged areas of the courthouse on the top floor and an assessment of the electrical service has determined that the building is safe for occupancy by the staff and the public.

All Attleboro District Court business resumed at the Attleboro District Court - with the exception of jury trials. Civil jury trials will be held at the Wrentham District Court for trial and criminal jury trials will be at the Taunton District Court. Anyone with any questions may call the Attleboro District Court at (508) 222-5900 for further instructions.

Wrentham District Court: 60 East St. in Wrentham, (508) 384-3106.

Taunton District Court: 120 Cohannet St. in Taunton, (508) 977-6156.

Taunton Juvenile Court: 9 Court St. in Taunton (Taunton Superior Court building), (508) 824-0609.

Natick District Court to relocate

Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan has announced that the Massachusetts Trial Court will relocate the Natick District Court by the end of September.

The Administrative Office of the Trial Court has advised the Town of Natick that the court will terminate its lease at the town building when the existing lease expires on Sept. 30.

The Natick District Court has jurisdiction for civil and criminal matters in Natick and Sherborn. Most of the court's business will be handled by the Framingham Division of the District Court located at 600 Concord St. in Framingham. The judges and staff for the Natick division will relocate to manage the caseload. The temporary relocation is an expense reduction measure in response to the statewide economic decline, which has severely impacted the commonwealth's fiscal 2010 budget.

Transition planning is underway. New contact information will be announced.

Interim guidelines approved for protecting personal data in public court documents

The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court recently approved interim guidelines designed to protect against identity theft by having court filers omit or delete certain personal identifying information, such as Social Security numbers, in criminal and civil court documents. The Guidelines for the Protection of Personal Identifying Data (PID) in Publicly Accessible Court Documents are nonbinding and take effect on Sept. 1, 2009.

The interim guidelines apply only to court documents that are publicly available. It is solely the filer's responsibility to delete or omit data. The guidelines contain a number of exemptions for situations when personal information may be necessary to include in documents because it is required by law or court rules or for other specific reasons.

The interim guidelines ( and a summary fact sheet ( are available in court clerks' offices statewide.

Notice of proposed amendments to Rule 11 of the Mass. Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 20 of the Mass. Rules of Appellate Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure invites comments on proposed amendments to Rule 11 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 20 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The proposed amendment to Mass. R. Civ. P. 11 (a) would require attorneys and self-represented litigants to include their e-mail addresses, if any, on pleadings. Providing an e-mail address does not indicate consent to filing or service by e-mail. Similarly, Mass. R.A.P. 20 (a)(4) would be amended to require attorneys to include their e-mail addresses, if any, on briefs.

After reviewing the comments submitted, the Standing Advisory Committee will make its recommendations to the Supreme Judicial Court with respect to the proposed amendments.

CMAB report commends courts' progress

The Court Management Advisory Board recognized the "continuing progress" made by the Trial Court Department since sweeping reforms were ushered in after the Monan Report was issued in 2003.

CMAB released its annual report evaluating the Trial Courts' ongoing implementation of court reforms, "commends Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan, his leadership team, and the Trial Court judges, clerks and staff for their tremendous dedication to the initiatives undertaken during 2008," including the:

  • Third year of court metrics;
  • Steady and successful rollout of MassCourts;
  • Implementation of the Access and Fairness Survey Project across the system; and
  • Piloting of the Case File Integrity Project.

The report also noted that the collection of important data is allowing the courts to improve its planning and decision-making: "The value of the data will continue to enable more effective strategic planning, as the court system addresses the major fiscal issues confronting the state in FY10 and FY11."

Probate and Family Court announce changes

The Probate and Family Court announced changes to the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Appellate Procedure, Trial Court Rules, Rules of the Superior Court, and the General Rules of the Probate Court that became effective July 1, 2009.

In addition, the Probate and Family Court announced changes to the Uniform Practices of Probate Courts of Massachusetts, as well as changes and additions to the standing orders of the Probate and Family Court that also became effective July 1, 2009.

These changes were recommended by the MUPC Implementation Committee's Article V Working Group, circulated for comment, approved by Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, and were recently approved and promulgated by the Supreme Judicial Court and Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan.

Fitchburg District Court designated Gelinas Courthouse to honor judicial legacy

The Fitchburg District Court was designated as the Gelinas Courthouse on June 16 in honor of the contributions of the late Hon. A. Andre Gelinas and the Hon. Andre A. Gelinas to the judiciary, bar and civic affairs of Fitchburg for more than 85 years.

Judge Andre A. Gelinas served on the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 1999 to 2008 after serving as a district court judge since 1979. He now serves as the special advisor to the chief justice for administration and management for information technology.

His late father, Hon. A. Andre Gelinas, was appointed in 1931 as a special justice of the Fitchburg District Court and later served as assistant district attorney and district attorney in Worcester County. In 1924, he founded the law firm Gelinas & Ward.