Plymouth County Bar Association
Dear Members and Colleagues:
Many new and exciting things are happening in the Courts in Plymouth County. I have out lined them below:
Drug Court: The newly formed specialty Drug Court is up and running, thanks to the leadership of Judge Bernard and her team. The Court is in its infancy stage but will surely grow and become an important component in the District Court’s multi-tiered approach to reducing recidivism, helping people transition to a more productive lifestyle, and even saving lives. Any criminal defendant facing charges in the Brockton District Court who is suffering with a drug dependency problem is eligible for Drug Court, but, at this stage, it is expected that the candidates will enter at the dispositional stage, that is, transitioned in lieu of incarceration at sentencing. This can be imposed at the Trial stage, or at the VOP stage. Once in the program, the Defendant will receive fairly intensive involvement with Court personnel aimed at not only imposing lifestyle changes but monitoring them closely. In fact, a Defendant in the Drug Court will be scheduled to visit with one of the two selected Drug Court Judges on a weekly basis. The consequences of failure in the program will be sentencing including incarceration. The consequences of success will be a return of the probationer to a safer, happier, more stable lifestyle.
New Court Initiatives: The Trial Courts of Massachusetts, headed by Chief Justice Gants of the SJC, Judge Carey, head of the District Courts, and a long list of team leaders has adopted many new initiatives designed to improve the functionality of the Judicial system. Court Administrator Spence is actively trying to secure funding, which is extremely difficult, but he hopes these initiatives will eventually get funded. They include extension of the Specialty Courts in Mass. Statewide expansion of the Housing Court, Implementation of the Domestic Violence Statute, ADR Programs, Pre-Trial Probation Pilot, Enhanced Drug Testing, Court Service Centers, and many more.
Civil ADR Program: Also, in the Brockton District Court, Judge Bernard, again with the help of many talented and committed personnel both in her department, and from Judge Dawley’s staff, have begun the process of implementing an ADR program for civil litigants. The Trial Court’s aim is to reduce backlog, and increase efficiency. The benefit will inure to the Judges, the Court personnel, the litigants, and every single lawyer that practices in the District Court. The program will be staffed by volunteer lawyers who will devote a small amount of time as Court conciliators. It is anticipated that the conciliation will be scheduled after the Case Management Conference, perhaps at the Pre-Trial Conference stage. By scheduling in this manner, it will give the parties an opportunity to do their discovery so that the conciliation will be more meaningful, and lend itself to a resolution short of trial. It will also avoid the necessity of a third scheduled Court event. The PCBA will be soliciting volunteers in the near future, as well as updating you as the program evolves. Please take advantage of this opportunity to provide a service to the Court, as you will also be the recipient of this service. It truly is a “pay it forward opportunity”.
Law Library: The Court officials have decided to close the library in the Brockton Superior Court. After much debate, and with the help of the PCBA, the decision has been made to open a satellite library in the Brockton District Court. The library was scheduled to be a much scaled down version of the current library and was to be housed in the janitor’s closet, adjacent to room 110 on the first floor. After much wrangling, and with the help of the dedicated efforts of Marie Fournier, the project has expanded. The library will take the entire space of the hearings room at room 110. The civil hearings, presided over by clerks Tom Brophy and John Burns have been re-assigned to Courtroom 3 on the third floor.
Night Court: Night Court has dawned in the Plymouth District Court. Judge Minehan has launched night Court, designed to provide access to Justice for members of the public that need to work or are otherwise gainfully occupied during the normal working hours of the District Court.
Housing Court Roundtable: Judge Edwards, in the Housing Court, with the assistance of the PCBA is in the process of arranging a roundtable type forum in his Court to engage lawyers in the art of Housing Court law and to discuss important changes that have been implemented. If you do any amount of work in the Housing Court, this will be an important event. If you are new to this area of the law, come by and visit. Housing Court is an incredibly busy place and there is an enormous opportunity for skilled lawyers to develop a practice there to supplement whatever else they may be doing. Housing Court has a lawyer of the day program. Many lawyers have volunteered their time, and have actually transitioned that time into a viable source of business. Please contact the Pilgrim Advocates to enroll in that program.
Judge Corbett’s Retirement: Judge Corbett has retired from the Juvenile Court after many years of dedicated service. He is the definition of a great Judge and will be missed by all. Please take the time to honor him at his retirement party on Thursday, May 21, 2015 from 6:00 to 9:00. at the Fireside Grill in Middleboro.
Industrial Accident Board Openings: The Industrial Accident Board is looking for five Administrative Judge positions and is currently accepting applications. Contact the PCBA for more information.
I hope this update has been helpful. Please visit our website at www.plymouthcountybar.com or contact us for more information, or to get involved in PCBA events.
David M. Asack, President