Court and Community News

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021
SJC commences search for next chief justice of the Trial Court; ​Judicial vacancies open for applications; Court leaders testify on IT Bond Bill; SJC honors attorneys for outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services; USDC-MA to host restorative justice program

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SJC commences search for next chief justice of the Trial Court

With Chief Justice Paula Carey retiring in January 2022, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has commenced the process to select her successor by issuing a notice inviting applications and nominations for the position of chief justice of the Trial Court.

The chief justice of the Trial Court is a key leadership position in the Massachusetts judiciary, with responsibility for the general superintendence of the judicial policy of the Trial Court. The chief justice of the Trial Court works in close collaboration with the court administrator to advance the mission of the Trial Court — “justice with dignity and speed.”

By statute, the position of chief justice of the Trial Court must be filled from among the judges of the Trial Court departments, by a majority vote of the justices of the SJC. The chief justice of the Trial Court, like the court administrator, reports to the justices through the chief justice of the SJC.

The application and nomination period will remain open until the close of business on Nov. 30, 2021. Trial Court judges interested in the position, and others interested in nominating a Trial Court judge for consideration, should submit the required materials as set forth in the notice by that deadline.

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Judicial vacancies open for applications

The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) is currently accepting applications for the following Superior Court vacancies:

Hon. Angel Kelley
(Sept. 15, 2021)
 
Hon. Janice W. Howe                
(Jan. 17, 2022)

The application deadline for both vacancies is Thursday, Dec. 16, at noon. Click here for application instructions and here to sign up for JNC notifications.

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Court leaders testify on IT Bond Bill

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, Trial Court Administrator John Bello and Chief Information Officer Steven Duncan presented testimony on the Judiciary IT Bond Bill in a virtual hearing before the Massachusetts Legislature Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Friday, Oct. 29. The bill (H.1520) seeks $164 million to enable investments in technology systems, security and infrastructure to transform and modernize the courts and significantly improve operational effectiveness.

Click here to read the testimony submitted by all three court officials and view the hearing.

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SJC honors attorneys for outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services

Supreme Judicial Court Justice (SJC) Elspeth Cypher on Oct. 26 presented Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards to three attorneys for their tremendous dedication to providing volunteer legal services for persons who cannot afford an attorney for their essential legal needs. The annual Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards are named in honor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Normally held in the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, this year's event was presented live online.

Elizabeth Ennen, Esq., chair of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, delivered opening and closing remarks.

SJC Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd also gave opening remarks on behalf of the SJC. "I would like to congratulate each Adams Award recipient and each Pro Bono Honor Roll participant on your accomplishments. By providing pro bono legal assistance to people who cannot afford an attorney, each of you has made an enormous difference in the lives of others."

Ariel Clemmer, Esq., a member of the committee, recognized the legal organizations, individual attorneys and law students on the SJC Pro Bono Honor Roll and High Honor Roll. The Honor Roll each year recognizes law firms and other legal organizations that perform a minimum number of hours of approved pro bono legal services during the previous calendar year, and law students who have done so during their law school careers. Starting last year, the SJC also created an Honor Roll category for individual attorneys. Those who performed at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in the previous calendar year qualify for honors, and attorneys who performed at least 100 hours of pro bono service qualify for high honors. More than 700 attorneys and 250 law students were named to the Honor Roll.

Cypher then presented Adams Pro Bono Publico Awards to three attorneys selected by the SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services for their outstanding pro bono work:

  • Samuel E.J. Bryar, Esq., for providing approximately 3,300 hours of pro bono representation since May 2018 to low-income domestic violence survivors and their children in complex, highly contested family law matters, in partnership with the De Novo Center for Justice and Healing.
  • Michael E. Jusczyk, Esq., for his exemplary pro bono representation of unaccompanied minors who enter the U.S. immigration system alone in a series of challenging cases, in partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).
  • Bethany N. Serota, Esq., for her leadership in providing and supporting pro bono legal services through the Community Service Committee of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and through Project Opportunity, a program sponsored by the City of Boston in partnership with Lawyers Clearinghouse that provides free criminal record sealing and expungement clinics for Boston residents.

The SJC Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services works to promote volunteer legal work in Massachusetts to help people of limited means in need of legal representation, in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. The awards ceremony was one of many activities celebrating and building support for pro bono legal work in Massachusetts during the month of October, a month officially proclaimed Pro Bono Month by Governor Charlie Baker. The American Bar Association also proclaimed a National Celebration of Pro Bono during the week of Oct. 24-30, 2021.

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USDC-MA to host restorative justice program

Discovering Justice, in partnership with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, will be hosting a panel on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., to discuss the District of Massachusetts' innovative restorative justice programming.

Discovering Justice Executive Director Matt Wilson will facilitate a conversation between key actors in this program, including U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Herbert, Probation Officer Maria D’Addieco, defense attorney Jessica Hedges and two participants from the program.

Panelists will explore the relationship between restorative justice and the court system. The discussion offers an opportunity to examine goals of the current justice system and consider how the process of restorative justice can facilitate meaningful acceptance of responsibility for those who caused harm — and a sense of agency for those who have been harmed.

The event will be offered both in person at the John J. Moakley Courthouse and virtually on Zoom. A brief reception with refreshments will follow the discussion.

Click here to register.