Committee on juror voir dire final report and statement
from SJC justices
On August 6, 2014, the Legislature enacted Chapter 254 of the
Acts of 2014, granting attorneys and self-represented parties the
right to question potential jurors in all Superior Court trials,
effective February 2, 2015. Chief Justice Ralph Gants convened the
SJC Committee on Juror Voir Dire (Committee) in September, 2014.
Composed of judges from the five Trial Court Departments with jury
trials, as well as attorneys with a wide variety of trial
experience, the committee was chaired by Justice Barbara A. Lenk.
The committee's mandate was to recommend how jury selection might
be enhanced throughout the Trial Court, including but not limited
to how best to implement Chapter 254. Visit
http://www.mass.gov/courts for the committee's final report and a
statement from the justices.
Amendments to the Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil
Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Abuse
The Supreme Judicial Court has approved amendments to the
Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders, effective Sept. 6, 2016.
Visit http://www.mass.gov/courts to view the amendments.
Amendments to Rule 3:10 of the Rules of the Supreme
The Supreme Judicial Court has approved amendments to Rule 3:10
of the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court effective November 1,
SJC justices' statement on approval of Trial Court Rule
XIV on Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records
The Supreme Judicial Court has approved Trial Court Rule XIV,
Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records, which governs
access to court records in the trial courts. The court's approval
of the section of the rule that governs remote access by attorneys
through the Attorney Portal (Section 5(b)) is provisional and the
court will revisit this section in the fall of 2016.
Rule XIV sets out procedures to access court records at the
counter in the clerk's office of every trial court, at a public
access terminal in the clerk's office, and remotely through the
Internet. The rule attempts to balance the public's interest in
having accessible records with the legislative intent to limit
access to criminal records as reflected in the CORI statute and the
privacy interests of litigants, victims, and witnesses in some
court cases, such as juvenile proceedings, domestic violence cases
and child custody and other family matters. It contains provisions
addressing access to records in the courthouse, requests for
compiled and bulk data, and remote access to electronic court
records through a Public Internet Portal and an Attorney
Because of reasonable concerns that were expressed after recent
changes were made limiting the information that had been available
to attorneys through the Attorney Portal, the Justices have
approved the section of the rule (Section 5(b)) that governs remote
access through the Attorney Portal on a provisional basis. The
justices asked the Chief Justice of the Trial Court to address the
concerns that were raised and to make a recommendation no later
than the end of October 2016 on whether changes should be made in
Section 5(b). Meanwhile, consistent with Rule XIV, the Trial Court
is expanding the information that can be viewed remotely through
the Public Internet Portal to include searchable criminal docket
information, beginning with the Superior Court. The Trial Court
plans to make criminal docket information in other court
departments available on the Internet over the coming months.
Rule XIV was developed by a Trial Court committee chaired by
Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat. The committee worked for over
two years to develop a rule that attempts to balance various
interests and clarify procedures. In the course of its work, the
committee held a public hearing and also published its proposed
rule for public comment for a four month period.
In addition to approving Rule XIV, the Justices of the Supreme
Judicial Court asked the Chief Justice of the Trial Court to
appoint a standing committee, with representation from the courts,
the bar, and the media, to monitor implementation and make
recommendations for changes in the rules to respond to the rapid
and significant nature of technological changes.
The Justices also approved a new SJC Rule 1:24, governing
personal identifying information in court documents. This rule,
modeled on SJC guidelines that have been in place since 2009,
restricts parties and the courts from including certain personal
identifying information in court documents. Both new rules will
become effective on Nov. 1, 2016.
Update on public access to court records
The "set up" for remote search by docket number of criminal
cases on the public portal in the Superior Court Department has
The three criminal case types - Indictment, Criminal Complaint,
and Probation Transfer are now available at www.masscourts.org.
Cases can be searched by docket number or by date range, limited to
any period of time where the date range is 30 days or less. A
search by name is not allowed for these three case types.
Statement of Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard regarding
Judge Conrad K. Cyr
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit mourns
the death of Judge Conrad K. Cyr and expresses deepest sympathy to
his family and friends. Judge Cyr was a fair and compassionate
jurist, who will be tremendously missed by his colleagues on the
federal bench, as well as by the bar and the public.
Judge Cyr dedicated the majority of his career to serving the
federal judiciary. He was a bankruptcy judge for the District of
Maine from 1973 to 1981, when he was appointed to the United States
District Court for the District of Maine, where he served until
1989. In 1989, Judge Cyr was appointed to the United States Court
of Appeals for the First Circuit. Judge Cyr
assumed senior status in 1997 and continued to serve the Court
of Appeals as a senior judge until his retirement in 2008.
Judge Cyr's colleagues celebrate his extraordinary legal
intellect and approachable spirit. A man with a deep love of the
law and of his home state of Maine, Judge Cyr succeeded in
personally engaging with his colleagues and the public. "Judge Cyr
was not only an exceptional judge," Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard
stated, "but also a wonderful friend. His dedication to justice and
to his country has left an indelible mark on the legal system and
on this nation."
Adoption of Uniform Bar Examination
The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court have endorsed the
recommendation of the Committee to Examine the Uniform Bar
Examination (Committee) to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE),
with an effective date of July 2018. The Justices also endorsed the
Committee's recommendation that, beginning in July 2018, applicants
for admission to the Massachusetts bar be required to complete a
new local component program that will ensure that newly-licensed
attorneys are familiar with key Massachusetts laws and procedures.
The Court will appoint working groups to develop the Massachusetts
law component and to prepare for the transition to the UBE.
The UBE is a uniformly administered, graded, and scored bar
examination prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
The UBE produces a portable score that can be transferred to other
UBE jurisdictions, subject to the applicant's satisfying any
additional requirements imposed by a jurisdiction. Each
jurisdiction sets its own pass rate for the UBE. To date, 23 states
and the District of Columbia have adopted the UBE. Eight of these
jurisdictions have adopted a local law component.
Hon. Robert J. Cordy and Hon. Margot Botsford, justices of the
Supreme Judicial Court, chaired the Committee. MBA Past President
Richard P. Campbell represented the Massachusetts Bar Association
on the committee. A full list of committee members is available
Assoc. Dean Maris Abbene, Esq.
Boston College Law School
Barbara F. Berenson, Esq.
Supreme Judicial Court
Geoffrey R. Bok, Esq.
Board of Bar Examiners
Hon. Nonnie Burnes (ret.)
Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on
Richard Campbell, Esq.
Massachusetts Bar Association
Dean Michael Coyne
Massachusetts School of Law
Clerk Maura S. Doyle, Esq.
Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk
Melinda F. Drew, Teaching Professor
Northeastern University School of Law
Rebecca Flanagan, Asst.
Professor University of Massachusetts Law School
Professor Andrew Kaufman
Harvard Law School
Wayne Kennard, Esq.
Boston Bar Association
Kandace Kukas, Asst. Dean
Western New England University School of Law
Carol R. Lev, Esq.
Supreme Judicial Court
Mela Lew, Esq.
Board of Bar Examiners
Dean Maureen O'Rourke
Boston University School of Law
Dean Andrew Perlman
Suffolk University Law School
Alice Richmond, Esq.
Board of Bar Examiners (former member)
Nan M. Sauer, Esq.
Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association
Professor Paul F. Teich
New England Law, Boston
Marilyn J. Wellington, Esq.
Board of Bar Examiners