Gants unveils court initiatives at Bench-Bar Symposium

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014
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Top: Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants delivered his first State of the Judiciary Address to the legal community at the MBA's Annual Bench-Bar Symposium on Oct. 16. Bottom (from left): Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court Paula M. Carey, MBA President Marsha V. Kazarosian and SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants were the featured speakers at the symposium. Photos by Jeff Thiebauth.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants discussed the court's agenda for the year and stressed the importance of cooperation in his first State of the Judiciary address on Oct. 16, at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Annual Bench-Bar Symposium.

Addressing the crowd, Gants called for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing in drug offenses. He also challenged the courts and bar to "compete with private arbitration" by developing more litigation options for civil court cases, and he announced plans to release information sheets that will help self-represented litigants know how and where to access legal assistance. Gants concluded his remarks by pledging his commitment to voir dire.

During her opening remarks, MBA President Marsha V. Kazarosian celebrated the strong collaboration between lawyers and judges, as well as legislators and others who work closely with the legal community. "This is truly a community of people used to working toward common goals, and achieving those goals. And each time I have the honor of speaking to our legal and legislative community, I am reminded of the humbling power of cooperation and collaboration," she said.

Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence also spoke at the symposium, each lauding their successes in establishing a unified management team for the trial court. Carey also spoke about the bar's invaluable role in helping the courts serve the people of Massachusetts.

"[T]he Trial Court would not have been able to effectively deliver justice over the five years of the fiscal crisis without the help and commitment of the bar," Carey said, adding: "As we move forward, we are keeping the needs of the bar in the forefront."