News from the courts/agencies

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018
Piper appointed Land Court chief justice; Zadek honored for pro bono work; court offers electronic filing of small claims


Piper appointed Land Court chief justice

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey this week announced the appointment of Judge Gordon H. Piper as chief justice of the Land Court for a five-year term commencing Oct. 29. Piper has served on the Land Court since 2002. 

Piper currently chairs the Land Court’s Committee on Registered Land Guidelines and serves on committees to revise court rules and develop innovations to make litigation more efficient. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Flaschner Judicial Institute and the Trial Court’s digital court room committee.

Before his appointment to the bench, Piper practiced for 20 years with Goodwin Procter LLP, specializing in real estate and land use matters and real estate litigation. He served as president of the Massachusetts Conveyancers Association, now the Real Estate Bar Association. In 2015, the Massachusetts Judges Conference honored him with an award for judicial excellence.  

Piper succeeds Chief Justice Judith Cutler, who served in that position since 2014 and will retire on Oct. 27. 


Zadek honored for pro bono work

MBA member Alec J. Zadek recently received an Adams Pro Bono Publico Award in recognition of his distinguished service and outstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal services for those in need. Zadek was among those honored by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly S. Budd at a ceremony on Oct. 18, at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

An attorney at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC in Boston, Zadek was recognized for his many years of groundbreaking pro bono work on behalf of victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. The SJC specifically noted Zadek's leadership in developing and successfully advocating for passage of legislation that streamlines the process for sex trafficking victims to vacate their related convictions for prostitution or drug possession.

Named in honor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the awards are selected by the SJC's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.


Court offers electronic filing of small claims

The Massachusetts Trial Court recently introduced an online interview process, known as “Guide & File,” to allow anyone with a small claim to complete the process from any computer and electronically submit documentation to the court.

The new program went live in July, and in the first two months alone, online small claims filings increased 96 percent. Last year, more than 98,000 small claims were filed in courts across the commonwealth, requiring documents to be mailed or physically presented to courthouses. 

Guide & File simplifies the filing process for this straightforward legal matter and prompts applicants through a step-by-step series of guided questions. The responses produce a completed legal document that can be electronically submitted to the court for a small fee.

A small claims case is a special process to resolve civil cases in which the damages usually do not exceed $7,000. Claims are initially heard by a clerk-magistrate and may be appealed to a judge.

Piloted in the six Court Service Centers, the online interview was developed over more than a year by staff from the Boston Municipal, District and Housing courts. Now, all small claims in Massachusetts can easily be filed electronically. 

For more information, click here.