News from the Courts

Issue March 2013

Extended hours pilot at the Brooke Courthouse

The Massachusetts Trial Court has announced the commencement of a pilot program extending the hours in three court departments operating sessions at the Brooke Courthouse in Boston.

This program is designed to assess, over a period of time, the usefulness of extended court hours as a convenience for certain segments of the public. Effective Feb. 26, the Boston Municipal Court, Housing Court and Probate and Family Court departments began conducting certain limited court sessions on two Tuesdays each month until 7 p.m. In addition to Feb. 26, the dates for the first several months are March 12, March 26, April 9 and April 23.

The purpose of this pilot is to make the court available to members of the public during late afternoon and early evening hours. The sessions will be limited to specifically-designated case types. All matters will be pre-scheduled and/or by agreement of the parties.

The Clerks' Offices and Registry of Probate will not be open to the public during the extended hours. Those offices will staff the sessions, as needed. Emergency matters occurring weekday evenings from 4:30 p.m. to the opening of court at 8:30 a.m., or on weekends or holidays will continue to be processed through the Judicial Response System as accessed through the local police departments.

Information regarding the types of matters that will be available for this pilot, their scheduling and courtroom locations will be posted to www.Mass.Gov/Courts by court department, or the courts can be reached as follows:

  • Boston Municipal Court: (617) 788-8600
  • Boston Housing Court: (617) 788-8485
  • Suffolk Probate and Family Court: (617) 788-8300

Interim chief justice of the District Court appointed

Chief Justice of the Trial Court Robert A. Mulligan has announced the appointment of Hon. Paul F. LoConto as interim chief justice of the district court, in accordance with G.L. c.211B, §7. LoConto will succeed Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly, who will retire on March 1, 2013. Mulligan, who will reach the mandatory retirement age in July of this year, recently stated that his successor will appoint the Chief Justice of the District Court to the full five-year term.

LoConto has been a regional administrative judge of the district court department since 1999. He also has served as first justice of the Worcester District Court since 2004. Prior to that, he was first justice of the Fitchburg District Court for five years and first justice of the East Brookfield District Court for 10 years. He also served as presiding justice of the Appellate Division of the District Court in the western region from 1989 to 2011. He was first appointed to the District Court Department in 1985. Previously, he served as clerk magistrate of the East Brookfield District Court for 10 years, following his career as an attorney in private practice.

Probate and Family Court announces release of a procedural advisory and updated trust forms

Chief Justice Paula M. Carey of the Probate and Family Court has announced the release of a procedural advisory on trust matters, as well as new and revised trust forms. The procedural advisory highlights procedural and form changes as a result of the adoption of the Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code. The MUTC was enacted as part of Chapter 140 of the Acts of 2012. Chapter 140 amended various sections of G. L. c. 190B, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code and incorporated the MUTC as Chapter 203E of the General Laws.

The procedural advisory and trust forms were developed over the last several months by the MUPC Procedures Committee and the MUPC Forms Committee. Both committees are comprised of Probate and Family Court judges, court staff and members of the bar.

Proposed amendments to Rule 412 of the supplemental rules of the Probate and Family Court

Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, along with the Probate and Family Court Bench/Bar Committee on Rules, solicits comments on proposed amendments to Rule 412 of the supplemental rules of the Probate and Family Court.

The proposed changes to Rule 412, Joint Petition for Modification of Child Support Judgment, would expand the rule to allow parties to modify any judgment or temporary order of the Probate and Family Court where the parties are in agreement, the agreement is in writing and all other requirements of the rule are met.

Separate and Secure Waiting Area Task Force releases implementation progress report

The SSWA Task Force has filed a progress report outlining steps taken to implement the provision of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights. The report outlines the results of the court-by-court assessments through January 2013.

Regulations of the jury commissioner

The Supreme Judicial Court has approved amended Regulation 9 and new Regulation 10 of the Regulations of the Jury Commissioner, effective March 1, 2013.

Changes approved to SJC Rule 4:02

The Supreme Judicial Court has approved changes to the Rule 4:02 of the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court effective March 1, 2013.