Friday, September 2, 2011

Massachusetts trial courts to cut back services

Chief Justice for Administration and Management, Robert Mulligan, announced a reduction in public office hours and telephone coverage in order to compensate for the smaller staff the Trial Court is operating with today compared with 2007.

Doing the math, their headcount in 2007 was 7,780. They have lost 1,167 employees (15%) due to budget cuts during that four-year period.

Let me give you some perspective from a person who worked in manufacturing for many years. If we didn't increase our efficiency by more than 15% over a four-year period, we would have been left in the dust by our competitors.

How can you not be 15% more efficient than you were four years ago? That's the question that needs to be answered here.

As a former auditor with a "big four" accounting firm, I will be happy to spend a week in a court of the chief justice's choice and write a report to be published in a Boston daily of his choice about my experience; free of charge.


September 2, 2011

To:       Governor Patrick
Senate President Murray
Speaker DeLeo
            House and Senate Chairs of Ways and Means
            House and Senate Chairs of Judiciary
cc:        Lt. Gov. Murray
All members of the Massachusetts Senate
            All members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives

Next week, the Trial Court will announce some changes in public office hours at 38 courts to help reduce case backlogs and processing delays.

Beginning on September 19, 2011, the Trial Court will implement restricted access to counter and phone coverage to reduce case backlogs and processing delays.  The reduction in counter and telephone hours will provide necessary time for the fewer available staff to execute court orders and prepare and process cases.  The changes will not affect persons seeking emergency restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, mental health emergencies, warrants and other emergency matters.

As you may be aware, the Trial Court now employs 1,167 fewer people than in 2007, a 15 percent reduction of staff, due to substantial reductions in our appropriations.  The reduction in the court’s budget of $85M over the last three years has resulted in the court’s inability to fill vacant positions.  The staffing shortage has caused significant delays in many court divisions.

The 38 courts (list below) that will be affected by the changes in public office hours include:  21 divisions of the District Court, one division of the Housing Court, one division of the Juvenile Court, the Land Court, and the 14 divisions of the Probate and Family Court.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have regarding this adjustment in courts’ office hours over the coming days.

Robert A. Mulligan
Chief Justice for Administration & Management

Changes in Court Office Hours
District Court
·        Attleboro, Barnstable, E. Brookfield, Fall River (telephones only), Haverhill, Lowell, Malden, Palmer, Taunton, Waltham, Woburn, Wrentham (civil open Thursday)
o       Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.Monday through Friday
·        Natick/Framingham
  • Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
·        Lawrence, Lynn, Newburyport/Ipswich (telephones only),SomervilleSpringfieldStoughton, Uxbridge, Westborough
o       Counter and phone coverage restricted 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.Monday, Wednesday & Friday
Court sessions still will begin at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Restricted access applies to any business except:
Persons seeking emergency restraining orders, harassment prevention orders,
mental health emergencies, warrants
Housing Court
·        Western Division
o       Counter and phone coverage restricted 12 Noon to 2:00 p.m.Monday through Friday
Scheduled matters will continue to be heard throughout the day.
o       Satellite sessions cancelled the first week of each month inNorthamptonPittsfield and Greenfield.  Emergency matters during this week will be handled in Springfield. These satellite sessions will continue the other weeks of the month.
Juvenile Court
·        Springfield Session of the Hampden County Division
o       Counter and phone coverage restricted 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. and4:00 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Land Court
o       Counter and phone coverage restricted 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.Monday through Friday
Court sessions will be held as scheduled throughout the day.
Probate and Family Court
·        All divisions
o       Registry Counter and phone coverage restricted after 3 p.m.Monday through Friday
Applies to any court business, except emergency restraining orders and other emergencies.
Court sessions still will begin at 8:30 a.m.


  1. The amount of cases is significantly higher, especially criminal cases.

  2. Note, however, that Mulligan doesn't say a word about increased case load in his justification. Where do you get your figures?

  3. I work with the courts on a daily basis. You can also see this with the number of increased attorneys within the DA's Office, and public defenders.


I monitor all comments. As long as there are no personally defamatory statements and/or foul language, I'll post your comment. For this reason, your comment will not appear instantaneously. To comment without registering, choose Name/URL and type a screen name (or your real name if you like) into the Name field. Leave the URL field blank.