Bench-Bar Symposium sheds light on reduced recidivism, new legal issues and the push toward digital

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015
Article Picture
Top: (From left) Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, MBA President Robert W. Harnais, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence. Middle: Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants delivers his second annual state of the judiciary address on Oct. 20. Bottom: (From left) Carey, MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. Photos by Jeff Thiebauth.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants delivered his second annual State of the Judiciary Address to the legal community at the Massachusetts Bar Association's Bench-Bar Symposium at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston on Tuesday.

"The people of Massachusetts are fortunate to have judges who are not only heard from at decision time, but also at events like our Bench-Bar Symposium, where lawyers and judges speak together as a united legal community and learn from each other," said MBA President Robert W. Harnais.

Following introductory remarks from the MBA president, Gants detailed progress toward reducing the rate of recidivism by tailoring sentences to better fit the needs and circumstances of each defendant. He described a push to make civil cases more cost-effective and give litigants the opportunity to resolve disputes through alternative means, which he reported is already underway. Gants outlined several changes in litigation -- a wider range of options to resolve disputes, a reduced time to resolution and reasonable litigation costs and an increased number of dedicated civil sessions. He also disclosed the expectation that the SJC's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure will amend Rule 26 to provide for proportional discovery.

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey spoke on matters of substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health. She reported that the Trial Court received $3 million dollars to fund eight additional Specialty Courts this fiscal year, and that by the end of the fiscal year, there should be 42 sessions running across the state.

Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence concluded the event by commenting on the impending and continued modernization of the legal system and the switch to digital documents and e-filing throughout the legal process.