Bench and Bar Leaders Urge Advocacy for Court's Budget

Thursday, March 5, 2020
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Massachusetts Bar Association President John J. Morrissey speaks to bar leaders

Massachusetts Bar Association President John J. Morrissey urged bar association leaders to work together with their members to advance the court’s budgeting priorities at a meeting of bench and bar leaders on Tuesday, March 3, in the Supreme Judicial Court's courtroom at the John Adams Courthouse. 

SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants began the meeting by thanking bar leaders and their associations for their partnership in advocating for the court’s budget on Beacon Hill, and also for collaborating to improve the well-being of the profession. He said lawyers can be some of the most effective advocates for the court’s needs by explaining to legislators how court issues affect the people in their districts. 

Speaking next, Morrissey pledged the MBA’s support and encouraged other bar leaders to promote the court’s funding request in two ways: by reaching out directly to legislators to share their first-hand experiences, and also by asking their members to reach out to their friends and neighbors to share their stories. "Effective advocacy for the court budget requires the collaboration of bench, bar and voters," he said.

Morrissey also stressed the importance of passing the court’s Information Technology Bond Bill, calling it a “critical component” of the court’s funding needs this year. "Updating the technology of our court system and enhancing the court’s information services will strengthen the physical and virtual security of our courts, improve data collection and communication, and enhance access to justice for people across the commonwealth," he said.

During their remarks, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey and Court Administrator Jonathan Williams each provided additional details about recent Trial Court improvements, including the expansion of court service centers, specialty courts and eFiling. Still, Carey said they need to think smarter and differently to address ongoing and emerging challenges experienced by court users, including housing issues and mental health and substance use disorders. Williams also discussed the facilities challenges caused by aging buildings and called the IT Bond Bill a "transformative investment" that will help improve courthouse technology and cybersecurity. 

During her remarks, Boston Bar Association President Christine M. Netski pledged the BBA’s support for the court’s budgeting needs, as well as other important issues, including lawyer well-being and the independence of judges.