News from the Courts

Issue May 2012

Chief justices appoint Process Steering Committee members

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland and Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan announced on March 22 their appointments to the Process Steering Committee. The committee will guide the Massachusetts Judicial Branch Strategic Planning Initiative, which was launched earlier this year to serve as a blueprint for improving the delivery of quality justice in the years ahead.

The final Massachusetts Judicial Branch Strategic Plan will set forth a comprehensive picture of the current court system, a future vision for the court system, and a set of action strategies for achieving that vision. Some of the areas expected to be included are a capital plan, a technology plan and a workforce development plan. These and the overall final plan ultimately will designate implementation tasks, resources, timelines and benchmarks.

The chief justices appointed Cynthia Robinson-Markey, the legal counsel to the chief justice of the Boston Municipal Court, to serve as the court's project manager.

The website was established to provide current information and respond to questions about the planning process.

Process Steering Committee

  • Michael Bolden, first justice, Boston Municipal Court/S. Boston
  • J. David Bowie, assistant clerk magistrate, Barnstable Juvenile Court
  • Craig Burlingame, chief information officer, Trial Court Information Services
  • John Cavanaugh, deputy jury commissioner, Office of Jury Commissioner
  • Terry Craven, first justice, Suffolk Juvenile Court
  • Emilio Cruz, probation officer, Worcester Superior Court
  • Michael Doherty, assistant chief housing specialist, Springfield Housing Court
  • Judith Fabricant, associate justice, Suffolk Superior Court
  • John Gay, clerk magistrate, Springfield District Court
  • Meg Hayden, electronic resources librarian, Norfolk Law Library
  • Michael Hayes, chief of construction services, Court Capital and Facilities Management
  • Lee Kavanagh, research analyst, Sentencing Commission
  • Michelle Latimer, head administrative assistant, Berkshire Juvenile Court
  • Victoria Lewis, lead program manager, Judicial Institute
  • Patrick Malone, clerk magistrate, Fitchburg District Court
  • Francis Marinaro, register, Berkshire Probate & Family Court
  • Daphne Moore, assistant clerk magistrate, Hampden Superior Court
  • Jennifer O'Donnell, case coordinator, Worcester Probate & Family Court
  • Richard O'Neil, regional supervisor, Office of Probation
  • Patrick Rigol, court officer II, Peabody District Court
  • Linda Rowe, human resources specialist, Human Resources Department
  • Michelle Yee, assistant judicial case manager, Norfolk Probate & Family Court
  • Jill Ziter, acting court administrator, Land Court

Court reform appoints first Trial Court administrator

Last year's historic court reform has led to the hiring of Lewis H. "Harry" Spence as the first non-judicial professional to lead the Trial Court Department's business operations.

Court reform split the management of the Trial Courts between judicial and business operations, a move that had been championed by the Massachusetts Bar Association for decades.

"This new position is an important step in strengthening the day-to-day business operations of the Massachusetts court system," MBA Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Counsel Martin W. Healy said. Healy explained that this change brings to fruition decades' worth of independent reports and findings on Massachusetts court reform that have recommended the hiring of a professionally trained court administrator."

The MBA's 1976 Res Gestae, independently commissioned 1991 Harbridge House Report, and 2003 Court Reform Study urged a number of judicial reforms, including the hiring of a civilian, non-judicial court administrator to manage the business operations of the Trial Court.

Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan, who previously oversaw all judicial and business operations for the courts, will be responsible for all judicial operations, as the chief justice of the Trial Court.

Spence, as court administrator, takes over the business operations and responsibility for the courts' $553-million budget, 6,300 employees and 100 buildings. His duties include budget preparation and oversight, labor relations, information technology, capital projects and personnel policy.

Major court initiatives underway include: a comprehensive strategic planning process for the Trial Court launched earlier this year; updating the Trial Court's personnel policies and practices; and the development of a new capital plan for court buildings, in coordination with the state's Division of Capital Asset Management.

Spence served on the Court Management Advisory Board in 2010-11 and was a member of the Supreme Judicial Court Task Force on Hiring in the Judicial Branch. He started April 17 on a five-year contract, as required by the court reform legislation.

Comments sought on proposed revision of Model Jury Instructions on Homicide

In 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court justices created a new committee on Model Jury Instructions on Homicide and charged it with reviewing and updating the 1999 Model Jury Instructions on Homicide.

Because of the many relevant legal developments since 1999 and the committee's decision to reorder some of the instructions, the proposed revisions are available for public comment under the "Announcements" section at

These revised instructions do not include instructions for motor vehicle homicide; the revision of those instructions has not yet been completed.

SJC committee seeks comments on proposed Criminal Procedure amendments

The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure invites comments on proposed amendments to Rules 12 and 29 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure. The proposal can be found under the "Announcements" section at