News from the Courts

Issue February 2014

Trial Court names director of research and planning and communications manager

Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey and Court Administrator Harry Spence have announced the appointment of Linda K. Holt, director of research and planning, and Jennifer L. Bruni, communications manager.

The Trial Court formed the Department of Research & Planning/Sentencing Commission to facilitate a system-wide approach to research needs and applications. Holt will head the department engaged in quantitative and qualitative analysis to assist in the strategic planning and reporting for the Trial Court.

Bruni will be responsible for the Trial Court's internal communications, and will work with the Executive Office of the Trial Court and the SJC Public Information Office to update and improve the Trial Court's online and print content and materials. She will help ensure an effective and timely flow of news and information about the Trial Court to its employees and court users.

Clerk issues notice of pilot study on rebuttal time

Clerk Francis V. Kenneally has issued a Notice of Pilot Study on Rebuttal Time. During oral arguments before the full court in the months of February and March, the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court will allow the appellant, at the outset of opening argument, to reserve no more than five minutes for rebuttal. Failure to reserve a portion of argument time for rebuttal constitutes a waiver of rebuttal time. Reserved rebuttal time is for the purpose of answering contentions made in the other side's oral argument. Any time reserved for rebuttal will be deducted from that party's allotted time for opening argument. Absent leave of the court, where there are multiple appellants, only one may reserve time for rebuttal.

At the conclusion of the oral arguments in March 2014, the justices will review the use of rebuttal time under the pilot study and consider whether to amend the rules to provide for rebuttal time during arguments.

BMC announces new Veterans Treatment Court session

The Boston Municipal Court Department has implemented a Veterans Treatment Court session in the Central Division of the BMC. This new Veterans Treatment Court is the second in Massachusetts, following the implementation of a Veterans Treatment Court in Dedham.

This session, which began Jan. 29, is staffed with specially-trained judges, clinicians, probation officers and attorneys, and is adapted to consider and meet the specific needs of veterans. The purpose of the session is to incorporate rehabilitative and treatment services for veterans by providing them with the tools and services to help them overcome substance abuse issues, alcoholism, mental health issues and emotional disabilities. In addition to treatment, the session incorporates resources for academic and vocational training, job skills and placement services. Judge Eleanor C. Sinnott, a former Navy intelligence officer attached to Special Operations Command-Korea, presides over the court.

Fitchburg Law Library moves to the public library

The Fitchburg Law Library has re-opened at a new location on the second floor of the Fitchburg Public Library, located at 610 Main St.

The Law Library is a helpful resource for attorneys, those seeking to represent themselves or anyone who wants to conduct research.

The library's new hours take into account court sessions scheduled for small claims and Housing Court issues:

  • Monday & Wednesdays: noon-8 p.m.
  • Fridays: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Probate and Family Court announces free workshops

The Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court Department has announced a new program that will offer free family law workshops to mothers and fathers who are residents of Suffolk County and who are intending to file matters before the court as a way to help families better understand court procedures.

Mothers and fathers will learn the basics of family law, including:

  • How to prepare for court and present a case before a judge
  • Legal options for filing for and responding to a divorce action and a motion for temporary orders
  • Issues for unmarried parents: establishing paternity and filing a paternity action
  • Custody agreements and parenting arrangements
  • Identifying domestic violence and how to get help

The 90-minute workshops are divided by gender, with mothers attending separate workshops from fathers. The workshops are held in Boston City Hall every month through June, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Workshop dates for mothers: March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 12.

Workshop dates for fathers: March 27, April 17, May 22 and June 26.