Court funding urged at bench-bar meeting

Thursday, Apr. 7, 2016
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Photo Credit: Jason Scally
MBA President Robert W. Harnais speaks to members of the bench and fellow bar association leaders.

MBA President Robert W. Harnais spoke to court chiefs and fellow bar association leaders about the importance of court funding at a meeting at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston on April 5. Harnais repeated his call from January's Walk to the Hill where he asked lawyers to contact their elected officials and invite them to visit the courts for themselves. While many legislators have appeared at Drug Court graduation ceremonies, Harnais suggested that they also be urged to visit courts at other times, such as during arraignments.

Prior to Harnais, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants welcomed attendees and thanked the bar for its support, calling lawyers the closest thing to a "natural constituency" for the courts. He commented how his own regular visits to the trial courts, including a recent visit to Brockton, have shown him how hard court staffers are working, but also how the courts cannot afford to lose any more personnel.

Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence also spoke at the event, were they discussed the Trial Court's three budgetary areas of focus, or modules: expanding specialty courts, like drug courts; expanding the Housing Court statewide; and upgrading the court's electronic security system. Regarding the latter, Spence said that the state courts have a "drastically aging system," compared to the federal courts, which renew their devices every five years. He said many of the state's devices are more than 10 years old, and the electronic security system in the Brooke Courthouse in Boston completely failed one day five months ago.

This year's bench-bar meeting also included a panel on lawyer-for-the day programs before concluding with a reception.